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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 June 13 - 19  > Even less than 100 hours’ overtime a month causes ‘karoshi’
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2018 June 13 - 19 [LABOR]

Even less than 100 hours’ overtime a month causes ‘karoshi’

June 16, 2018
The Abe government is pushing forward with the enactment of the “work-style reform” bills which are designed to set an upper limit of overtime at 100 hours a month. A labor expert countered with data showing that more than half of the deaths of those who died from overwork (karoshi) had occurred with less than 100 overtime hours a month.

Kansai University Professor Emeritus Morioka Koji made this argument based on his analysis of the Labor Ministry data regarding workers’ deaths recognized as work-related.

Morioka argued that the total of monthly overtime of 48% of workers who died from brain and heart diseases and 58% of workers who committed suicide after suffering from mental problems worked less than 100 overtime hours per month.

Prime Minister Abe has been proclaiming that his “work-style reform” policy will work to eliminate karoshi, while seeking to allow for overtime work up to 100 hours a month or up to 80 hours on a monthly average over a period of two to six months. The proposed ceiling on overtime hours is equal to the current standards for official recognition of overwork-related deaths, the so-called “karoshi line”.

However, well under the karoshi line, it is acknowledged by medical experts that monthly overtime of 45 hours and over increases the risk that workers will develop brain, heart, or mental illnesses. And yet, the Abe government intends to pass legislation forcing workers to work overtime right up to the official karoshi line.

Morioka stressed that the government should work to make the 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek be set as labor standards and should not ease the work hour regulations.

The Japanese Communist Party has proposed to limit overtime to 15 hours a week, 45 hours a month, and 360 hours a year, and legalize an interval system that ensures for workers a consecutive 11-hours of rest between the end of a work shift and the beginning of the next day’s work.

Past related articles:
> Ruling block bulldozes through ‘work-style reform’ package bill [May 26, 2018]
> JCP calls for work system in line with 8-hour workday principle [May 12, 2018]
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