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Japanese Lawmakers Move To Reduce The Country’s Suicide Rate By 30%

Enough is enough.

Photo by Tinou Bao/Flickr

According to CBS Evening News, 25% of employees at Japanese companies work 80-plus hours of overtime a month. This has created a phenomenon known as karoshi or “overwork death” caused by stress and poor diet. Japan’s culture of overwork has also resulted in the highest suicide rate in the G-7, the world’s leading industrial nations. That’s why Japanese lawmakers have recently announced new plans to attempt to reduce the country’s suicide rate by 30%. “We want to achieve the target as soon as possible by analyzing the causes of suicide,” Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Japan’s health, labor, and welfare minister, said at a news conference.

In 2015, the Japanese suicide rate was 18.5 per 100,000 people. The Japanese government looks to lower that rate to 13.0 — a level similar to that of the U.S. and Germany — by 2025. To do so, lawmakers are creating a plan that prevents employees from working over 100 overtime hours a month. Last May, the Labor Ministry released a list of 300 companies guilty of illegal overtime and other workplace violations.

The problem of suicide caused by overwork caught national attention in April when a 23-year-old worker at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium took his own life. The rush to get the stadium completed in time for the 2020 Olympic Games forced the worker to clock in over 200 overtime hours in the month of April alone.

In addition to curbing the suicide rate by reducing overtime hours, the Japanese government wants to help mothers suffering from postpartum depression. The government plans on providing mental health check-ups for new mothers and more support in child-rearing. The government will also promote support programs in schools to lower the teen suicide rate as well.

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