Recently, there has been intense debate in Japan about whether Japanese workers work too many hours for too little pay. Common Western stereotypes of Japanese workers focus on them as intrinsic workaholics or subject to gross exploitation. Both images are extremely misleading. The article examines the following questions: What are the trends in working hours reduction and how do we interpret them? Why do long working hours cause so little discontent? Why do workers not take the full vacation time to which they are legally entitled? It is questionable whether the ongoing reduction of working hours will continue because employers ultimately worry more about losing their customers than they do about losing their workers.
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