After a lengthy legal case, there was official recognition last week that a young woman’s death was work related. The terribly sad story of another lost life due to ludicrously long hours and a work culture gone more than just a little awry. And yet signs of real, meaningful change remain minimal, whereas signs of excessive working hours are almost everywhere.
He might just be struggling to read a text message in bright sunshine; but that illustrates how easy the issue is to miss, or dismiss as a work culture, yet another urgent deadline or being simply ‘not good enough’.
With those levels of overtime there wouldn’t be enough time to put your wheely bin out or even apply for another job.
Yes, it really is. He was actually fast asleep, as just after I’d taken the shot, there was a noise nearby which abruptly woke him up. Something that was a surprise for both of us!
I know eh? Just absurd working hours. simply criminal forcing people to do that. As is a work culture that allows such abuses.
Sometimes I think that the world has become divided into the overworked and the un(der)employed. Or those with money but no/little time versus those with time but no/little money!
Yes, very good points. Not always a great deal of happiness on either side…
I’ve read and heard that the rapid increase in part-time and temporary employment in Japan has been embraced by some, as freed from the ties and expectations of long-term, full employment, they can invest much more of their time and effort into things they like and are passionate about. That’s definitely a positive, as time is all too often a very precious commodity. But as you said, a lot of time invariably means not a great deal of money. And we all know what hardships and worries that can involve.
That is an acutely dismal scene you have photographed. The gritty stage just concentrates the situation we perceive the guy to be in.
The salaryman work “ethic” seems harsh beyond reason. I heard slackers used to be moved to desks by windows so they could take the “honourable” way out…
Work/life balance is a continual issue for my teacher wife. In the UK the high social value professions (nurses, doctors, firemen, teachers etc) have hard hours and poor pay, whereas socially worthless job, like my own (a financial IT consultant), have reasonable hours and good remuneration.
I did think things were improving a little in Japan, with companies at least trying to make their employess take their entitled holidays for example, but I do see things through the NHK Rose/Govt tinted lens I suppose.
Yes, it really can be hard. And the effects it can have those enduring it can obviously be very detrimental to say the least.
As you know form your family’s experience, it’s not just Japan where this is a problem, although it does seem to be especially harsh here. And while there have been some efforts like you mention, in reality things sadly eem to have changed very little…
Bernadette SiobhÃ¡n Loftus says
Striking picture. Very emotional.
You’d enjoy taking pictures around my neighborhood right now. The aftermath of Hurricane Matthew has left some a lot of material that would make great photos. A road I frequently use along the beach has crumbled into the ocean. It’s fascinating and frightening.
I can imagine how frightening and yet utterly fascinating it must be. The power of the weather is both horrifying and yet utterly awe inspiring, isn’t it? Although only the latter if you haven’t been directly affected. With that in mind, I hope you and your family were well out of the way of it.
Awesome photo! It is interesting to note was it not the USA that rebuilt Japan after WWII?
Cheers! The USA put down the framework, and then Japan put in the hours. I’m guessing that would be a fair assessment. Trouble is they are still putting in those hours, but this time for what?
To pay off the debt owed to the USA for them starting the war, for rebuilding Japan and servitude to the victors.
That was a long time ago, and debts have been paid on numerous sides. But I’m not going to go there. This photo is about young people with their whole lives ahead of them dying because of work. Let’s stick with that.
Excellent point, I did not think of that perspective. Yes you are right, the main focus is today’s youth, and not the past.
Great shot. Two things spring to mind: First, an absurdist / existential play or story about a hapless Everyman forever stuck outside a door that’ll never open. And two, he’s so exhausted he’s gone unconscious, but he’s still clutching his modern miracle technology phone like some kind of magic charm or totem. I don’t know what that says exactly, but it’s something about technology outstripping our ability to deal. His last actions before dropping off: text, email, and suddenly fade to black, but even then, he grips his phone. Nice.
Thank you. And even more thanks for the wonderful write up of your thoughts. Really interesting. A lot of food for thought there, particularly as I’m a big fan of technology, while at the same time increasingly aware of its downsides…