Karoshi – or death from overwork – has been blamed on a combination of Japanese workers’ commitment to duty and increased competition for jobs.
Over the past decade, long hours, unpaid overtime – known as “service overtime” – and shorter holidays have become the norm.
The Japanese government released its first ever investigation into the karoshi crisis last year revealing staff at 12 per cent of corporations put in more than 100 hours of overtime every month.
Employees of a further 23 per cent of the nation’s companies were only slightly better off, working 80 hours of overtime each month.
And the true figures may be even worse, as only 1,743 of the 10,000 companies across the nation invited to take part in the inquiry did so.
In the 2015, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare recognised 93 suicides and attempted suicides as having been caused by overwork
That figure jars with police statistics, however, which indicate problems related to work were to blame in 2,159 suicides that year.
The ministry’s figures are also overshadowed by the number of legal cases filed by relatives of victims of karoshi.
In the year to April 2015, 1,456 cases were filed with authorities. In comparison, in the four years between 2004 and 2008, 1,576 cases were filed.