What makes "salarymen" run? A mechanism for acceptance of long working hours by Japanese workers
Average annual working hours of Japanese workers are 100 to 500 hours more than their counterparts in other developed countries. This habit of working long hours has attracted strong concern: it is said to be a cause of karoshi, or death from overwork; furthermore, it is recognized as a source of Japanese "unfair" competitiveness as well as a negative effect of Japanese-style management. This paper inquires into the reasons why such a habit has long been accepted. As a main research method, past scholarly works are surveyed and analyzed. This analysis shows that economic and management studies have focused on "coerced" overwork, while some sociological and cultural explanations can be applicable to "voluntary" overwork. In order to explain quasi-voluntary overworking, an alternative approach with an emphasis on the psychology of workers is taken in this paper.