Death is usually caused by a heart attack or stroke. In classic karoshi cases, victims drop at their desks. You might think that this is Only in Japan and classify it as just another culture quirk of the Japanese, but this is now happening beyond Japan. Karoshi exists in Korea, Taiwan, and China. Karoshi emerged in Japan after the country rose from the ashes of the post war slump and edged towards prosperity. As the country’s star rose, so did the number of hours Japanese citizens worked. They became workhorses, clocking in 12 hour days seven days a week.
Why does karoshi still exist today? It still exists today because the culture is stocked by two key dynamics. First is the economic decline, which has fuelled cuts and the second is the exacting practice of Japanese production management or “lean production”. Karoshi looks unlikely to loosen its grip on the Japanese Salaryman any time soon with increased job insecurity, traditions of discipline and devotion to the company still running deep.
Inspired by an article in MyCareer in THE AGE 2011