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28 MYTH: Japanese are rich and hardworking (in a negative way)




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This article is from the American misconceptions about Japan FAQ, by Tanaka Tomoyuki ez074520@dilbert.ucdavis.edu with numerous contributions by others.

28 MYTH: Japanese are rich and hardworking (in a negative way)

In article < ...> someone wrote:
>
> (Japanese as rich and hardworking people.)
>
> This is bad?

as Mr Nakamura and Mr Tang point out in Sections (4) and (5),
the depiction of Japanese as rich and hardworking people in
US press is generally cast in negative context.

typically it takes the following form:

from "Coming to grips with karoshi" (TIME, Jan. 30, 1989)

Despite their country's status as the world's biggest
creditor nation, Japanese workers continue to put in the
greatest amount of work time of any major industrial country:
on average, they spend as much as 500 more hours a year on the
job than do their counterparts in West Germany and France, 200
more than those in the U.S. and Britain. Only 1 out of 3
workers enjoys a five-day workweek.

(Tanaka's note:
KAROSHI literally means "overwork-death". every year at least
a few people in Japan die from overwork. this happens in other
western countries too, but there are a few differences: (i)
the number may be slightly higher in Japan. (ii) in other
western countries, people who die from overwork tend to be
executives or self-employed. in Japan this happens to regular
white-collar workers. I believe overwork-death is becoming
increasingly uncommon in Japan in the last 3,4 years.)
(I say "other western country" because I believe that
Japan is both a western country and an Asian country.)

the tone of the mainstream US press is the following:
we know Japan is rich and Japanese people are
hardworking, but we strongly emphasize how terrible
life is over there, and their unfair, sneaky business
practices.

articles are often written in such a way to evoke images from
George Orwell's "1984": a joyless, socially-controlled
high-tech hell.

 

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