Stressed out men in Japan stab themselves to avoid going to work

Stressed out men in Japan stab themselves to avoid going to work
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Faking an ailment to skip a day of work may sound common to many of us, but two men in Japan recently resorted to extreme measures to avoid going to work.

Asahi News reported that a 54-year-old man showed up at a police station in Nagoya last Wednesday (Feb 22) saying that he had been stabbed from behind by a stranger at the train station.

With a 2.5cm-long wound on his hip, the man was taken to hospital while the police closed down part of the train station to investigate the case.

As he waited to receive medical treatment, the man admitted to the police that he had inflicted the wound on himself using a knife he had found near the ticket station.

"If I got hurt I thought I would not have to go to work," the man said. He added that he was under severe stress at his workplace.

After his confession, he was arrested for interfering with police duties, RT reported.

In the same week, another man in Fukuoka used a similar excuse to not show up at the baked goods company where he worked.

According to Rocket News, the 26-year-old man said he was stabbed in his right elbow when he resisted a person's attempt to steal his backpack.

However, the police were quick to see through his lies and found a knife in the young man's possession. He was subsequently arrested for filing a false police report.

The men's drastic actions may point to the trend of employees being overwhelmed by long hours of overtime work.

Japan's work culture has come under the spotlight in recent years as employees die from cardiovascular illness or kill themselves because of overwork or work-related mental stress.

This phenomenon, dubbed Karoshi (death by overwork), is likely the result of article 36 of the country's labour code which leaves "overtime pay and limits to the discretion of employers," Reuters reported.

Last year, a survey found that one in five Japanese workers faced the risk of dying from overwork.

To tackle this issue, the Japanese government is proposing changes to its labour laws by limiting overtime work to an average of 60 hours a month.

It also launched an initiative last week called 'Premium Friday' where companies encourage staff to leave their workplaces at 3pm on the last Friday of the month.

Also read: Another Ogilvy staff died while working overtime, sparking debate on a hot issue

minlee@sph.com.sg

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