Q Why do the Japanese work so hard?

A In 1993, the total number of actual working hours in the United States was 1,976 hours while it was 1,966 hours in Japan. This was a decrease of more than 350 hours compared to the figure in 1970. This was due to criticism from abroad concerning Japan's huge trade surplus coupled with the desire on the part of the Japanese, having become comfortable economically, wishing to have more free time for themselves.

Expressions once used to describe the Japanese as "economic anima is" and "workaholics" during the period of high economic growth no longer apply. However, the long commute to and from work; entertaining company guests; and "service overtime," in other words, working overtime without pay are not recorded. The hours a Japanese businessman is actually bound to the company probably exceeds that of the American businessman.

The reason frequently given in 32.7% of the cases for not taking their welldeserved paid vacation was, "will cause inconvenience to colleagues when gone." There are many in the younger generation who staunchly draw a line between work and themselves. Compared to workers of before, they have no qualms about changing jobs and there are even some who, from the onset, seek a con-tract which differs from a regular one.

However, a great many Japanese feel that it is their destiny to be bound to their company for better or for worse. They spend more hours at the company than what the figures indicate.