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Japan is a country known for its hardworking culture, where employees often sacrifice their personal time and health to achieve success in the workplace. Unfortunately, this can lead to a phenomenon called ‘karoushi’ - death from overwork. In recent years, lot’s of companies have been working on reducing overtime working in IT fields. But it’s undoubtedly true that there are still many black tech corporations in Japan.
In this blog post, I’ll guide you through the top tips for preventing karoushi so you can succeed without sacrificing your health.
What is Karoushi? What is Shachiku? #
Karoushi (過労死) is a Japanese word meaning “death from work”. It’s used to describe the sudden death of a person who has been working too hard, or working under too much stress.
Shachiku(社畜) means someone working for a long time like a slave. Unfortunately, it’s very common in many workplaces in Japan. It means someone who is forced to do overtime working with low salary, sacrificing themselves for companies.
Shachiku is like a disease. It’s difficult to recognize by yourself once you become. By the time you realize, it’s already too late. That’s why it’s really important to avoid the situation to be a shachiku, leading to karoushi in Japan.
Karoushi In Tech Startups In Japan #
When I was working in Japan, I had some friends working in tech startups. I also joined the dev community to find dev friends.
What I figured out is that almost everyone was in the same situation like me. I took a survey with my dev friends and here is the reference of working condition at tech startups in Japan.
From this chart, we can see that devs at tech startups are under lot’s of tasks. Moreover, the workload and resources are completely out of balance. (※This doesn’t generalize the tech startups in Japan.)
But it’s true that there are still many devs who are working in bad working environments in Japan.
Root Cause Of Shachiku In Tech Startups In Japan #
So far, we could see the potential problems lie in tech startups in Japan. Now, let’s deep down the root cause of it’s problem.
1. Price Competition #
Currently, there are a bunch of tech startups in Japan. But I think it’s already red ocean for the business.
There is no much big differences in small tech startups. What tech startups do in Japan is just price competition.
Trying to get the project in a cheap price with tight deadline is the only way to survive for a small tech startups.
If the project budget is small, the salary for the employees will be also small. That’s why there are many developers who are under working poor situation.
2.Subcontract On IT Industry In Japan #
Another reason why we have many shachiku in IT industry in Japan is the existence of subcontract. Subcontract means a company outsourcing the project to another company.
Here is the example of the project in Japan.
As you can see, Company C is the company which takes the responsible for the project. But they can only get a profit deducted by other subcontracted company.
Moreover, there is a large communication cost when company C tries to contact with client. Because of this IT industry structure, there are many projects on fire in Japan. As a result, developers need to work with tight schedule and small salary.
Tips Of How To Avoid Working At Black Tech Startups In Japan #
In order to avoid being Shachiku in tech startups in Japan, it’s important to avoid working in tech startups in Japan.
Based on my working experiences in Japan, let me share my tips when doing job hunting in Japan.
1. Avoid “elitism (少数精鋭)” #
elitism means that talented and selective workforce. A small but highly competent group of people. When you find this word on job opportunities, it’s highly possible that you will be assigned lot’s of tasks.
This word means that companies do not have enough capital to hire employees. So you need to handle unrealistic amount of tasks by yourself.
2. Handle All Of The Development Processes #
This is the common word for small tech startups job opportunities in Japan. It means that you need to handle multiple roles (Project Manager/QC/Developer) only by yourself.
It sounds like you can build your career in a short time by handling many different roles. But I guess it’s too risky. No replacement is available, so you might have to keep working even if they are ill.
For more details, I also talked about this topic on my video below. So please visit my channel if you are interested in:)
If You Figured Out That You Are Working At Black Tech Company #
If you are already working in an Black company, don’t worry. All you have to do is to prepare for leaving your company as soon as possible with safest way.
Here are some important notes to protect yourself from the Black corporations.
- Recording your working hours
- Saying "No" if you cannot handle your task by yourself
- Contacting with the Karoshi Hotline
If you are an employee in Japan, it is important to be aware of your rights and the steps you can take to prevent karoshi. If you feel that you are being asked to work excessive hours, talk to your employer or union representative. You can also contact the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s Karoshi Hotline for advice and support.
Karoushi prevention tips are essential for your physical and mental well-being as an employee in Japan. Taking these simple steps can make a huge difference in reducing stress at work, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and achieving work-life balance. Remember that it is important to speak up when feeling overwhelmed or exhausted so that proper solutions can be found. With this guidance and support from coworkers, bosses, and friends you will be able to thrive under pressure while working in Japan.
About me #
For someone who doesn’t know me, here is the summary about me:)
- I started my IT career without any CS background
- I have a couple of years of working experiences as software developer (mainly mobile & web) in Japan
- I got tired of the life in Japan and moved to Vietnam, Da Nang
- I love to create the mobile apps, Youtube videos and share the life in Vietnam
- I hope I can create the space to connect devs all over the world:)
For more details, I am waiting for you on my Youtube channels:)