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カテゴリーのアイコン Work Life in Japan
How Long Is the Typical Work Day in Japan?
Feb 08, 2024
5 min read
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When it comes to work culture, Japan is known for its strong work ethic and long working hours. For foreign residents looking to work in Japan, understanding the typical work day and working hours is crucial. In this article, we will explore the Japanese working hours and shed light on the expectations and challenges faced by foreign job seekers.

Japanese Working Hours and The Concept of "Karoshi"

Before diving into the specifics of Japanese working hours, it is important to address the concept of "karoshi." Karoshi refers to death caused by overwork, typically due to long working hours and excessive stress. This phenomenon gained attention in the 1980s when several high-profile cases were reported. Since then, the Japanese government has taken steps to address this issue, but long working hours still persist in many industries.

The Standard Work Day

The standard workday in Japan is typically eight hours, similar to many other countries. However, it is important to note that this does not include overtime. Many employees in Japan are expected to work additional hours beyond the standard work day, often without receiving overtime pay. Depending on the company you join, you could be expected to work until all your tasks are finished, no matter what time it is. And a clocking off time of 8pm, 9pm, or even later becoming the norm.

Overtime Culture

Overtime is deeply ingrained in Japanese work culture. It is not uncommon for employees to work late into the evening or even overnight to meet deadlines or fulfil their responsibilities. In some cases, employees may be required to work on weekends as well. This overtime culture extends beyond the typical workday, with some employees even required to work on weekends. For international workers, especially those not accustomed to such long working hours, this can present a significant challenge.

However, it is also an opportunity to embrace a unique aspect of Japanese work culture and learn to navigate the delicate balance between dedication to work and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. By understanding and adapting to the overtime culture, you can not only succeed professionally but also gain a deeper appreciation for the Japanese work ethic and the rewards it can bring. It is important to remember that some companies are more understanding and lenient than others, but unfortunately, it can be hard to figure this out before joining the company!

Even if an employer requires overtime, companies are required to pay an increased rate of wages for work in excess of statutory working hours. There are also limitations for overtime work and work on days off.

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Legal Regulations

To address the issue of excessive working hours, the Japanese government has implemented legal regulations. The Labor Standards Act sets limits on working hours and requires employers to provide overtime pay. According to the law, employees should not work more than 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day. However, there are exceptions and loopholes that allow companies to bypass these regulations.

Challenges for Foreign Job Seekers

Foreign job seekers in Japan, may face unique challenges when it comes to working hours. Language barriers and cultural differences can make it difficult to navigate the expectations and demands of the Japanese work environment. Additionally, the long working hours and overtime culture may be overwhelming for those who are used to a different work-life balance.

Tips for Navigating Japanese Working Hours

If you are a foreign national working in Japan, here are some tips to help you navigate the Japanese working hours:

  1. Research the company culture: Before accepting a job offer, research the company's work culture and talk to current or former employees to get a better understanding of their working hours and expectations.
  2. Negotiate your contract: If possible, negotiate your contract to include specific provisions regarding working hours and overtime pay. This can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you are compensated fairly for any additional hours worked.
  3. Seek support from colleagues: Building relationships with your colleagues can provide valuable support and guidance when it comes to navigating the working hours and work culture in Japan. They can offer insights and advice based on their own experiences.
  4. Take care of your well-being: It is important to prioritize your physical and mental well-being. Take breaks when needed, practice self-care, and seek help if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

Japanese Working Hours for Foreign Job Seekers

Understanding the typical working hours in Japan is essential for foreign job seekers looking to work in the country. While long working hours and overtime culture are prevalent, it is important to research and negotiate your contract to ensure fair treatment. By being aware of the challenges and taking care of your well-being, you can navigate the Japanese working hours and thrive in your professional endeavors.

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