A 56-hour workweek is far from an exception in Japan.
A recent survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) revealed that middle school teachers work 56 hours per week versus 38 hours in most developed countries.
A recent article from Malay Mail detailed how Kudo, a middle school teacher, battled through a taxing work schedule and eventually succumbed to karoshi.
Months before his death he wrote in his journal how his regular workday begins very in the morning and ends after midnight.
One probe by a union-affiliated think tank showed school teachers work an average 123 hours of overtime each month, pushing their weekly workload well beyond the so-called “karoshi line” of 80 hours.
Teachers say they are reaching the breaking point, and some have challenged the culture through lawsuits. This year, Japan’s ruling party established a task force to study the issue.
To address this issue, Japanese authorities are looking into outsourcing and adopting digitalization to ease teachers’ workloads.
“Our measures to reform work conditions for teachers are making steady progress,” education minister Keiko Nagaoka told parliament in October.
But she acknowledged that many “continue to work long hours” and “efforts need to be accelerated”.