Work Culture Leads To Doctor Suicide

( – In 2018, CNBC reported that workers in Japan worked some of the longest hours in the world, clocking over 80 hours of overtime in a single month. Broken down evenly by week, that would mean the average worker puts in 60 hours at the office, and that extra 20 hours is typically unpaid. Add to that, Japanese workers also skip their paid time off for vacation most of the time, which is a recipe for disaster. Evidently, time has not changed these figures much because a young man in Japan overworked himself to death.

On August 23, CNN reported that 26-year-old Takashima Shingo was a doctor in Kobe City who worked over 200 overtime hours in a single month last year. The physician hadn’t had a day off in three months, and the stress on his mental health finally took its toll. In May 2022, Takashima took his own life. Konan Medical Center denied overworking the young doctor, but the Japanese government’s labor inspector bucked that claim. In June, the entity reportedly ruled that long hours at work caused the man’s death.

The physician’s mother, Junko Takashima, confirmed that her son was extremely stressed from working at the hospital for such long hours. She said the doctor often complained that “no one would help him” and the work was “too hard.” Takashima said her son lost the opportunity to help patients and “contribute to society” because of the work culture in her country. She called for change.

But change is unlikely to happen at Konan Medical Center, as officials there deny any overworking problem exists. The medical center said medical professionals have tremendous freedom and indicated the hospital has no control over how much work they do on their own time or how much rest they get.

If the work culture persists in Japan, what does that mean for the future of healthcare in that country?

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