Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I don’t get the whole working overtime thing the Japanese have going. The June 25, 2013 Japan Times article “Unpaid overtime excesses hit young” and Keisuke Akita’s letter, “The dreams of young workers” (Japan Times, Sunday, July 7, 2013) don’t teach me anything except that people are mules.
Japanese enter the workforce expecting overtime work because it’s part of the work culture here. But whatever the explanation it ought to stop because overtime is NOT NORMAL. Overtime work is inversely proportional to the mismanagement of a company and its personnel, or the degree of managerial incompetence. Companies are not just unattractive but ridiculous if overtime work is part of their recruitment pitch. I suggest Japanese adopt greater trust in the written contract, allow for the influence of contracts to grow against the influence of human relations in the workplace, and seek self-actualizing personal identity and fulfilment outside the workplace not in it. After all, we do not live to work. We work so that we can live.
Personally, my employment contracts are the Word of God to me. I am reliable, persevering, and very hard working within the parameters of the contract’s provisions. Most importantly, my contracts specify my working hours and when the time is up I am out the door. It doesn’t matter if there are still papers on my desk. There will always be paper. It never ends. So I carry on the next business day where I left off the day before. The promise of remuneration for overtime does not attract me, and if the boss or coworkers are still busy at work I suggest they go home, too.
The economic miracle that saw Japan rise from the rubble of war to one of the greatest economies on earth has less to do with racial virtue, or dedication to company and hard work than it has to do with the miracle of protected markets. So Japanese workers ought to learn that they can afford to take a breather.
Published on Thursday, July 11, 2013 as “Abnormal way to run a workday.”
I am dedicated to the work, not to the employer. My private life is strictly private, so I resist mixing private and work life. For example, I never socialize with co-workers. Why would I want to, after all? Don’t I get enough of those people at work? I suppose there are crisis situations in which overtime work is necessary - like a disastroius earthquake, for example. But my premise that overtime is not normal holds.