Pity Japan's salaryman: Inside a brutal 80-hour workweek

Japan needs more women at work
Japan needs more women at work

Think your office job is tough? Try working 13 hours a day, six days a week, for three straight months.

In Japan, that's the kind of schedule many white-collar workers are expected to keep, a phenomenon documented in a new viral video from an expat who uses the moniker "Stu in Tokyo" on YouTube.

In the video, Stu chronicles one typical week of work during the financial services industry's busy season, which runs from January to March.

Each day, after just a few hours of sleep, Stu races to work. He stays on the job for an average of 13 hours, typically emerging from the office after 11:00 p.m. to make a frantic dash for the final train home. Then he does it again, and again.

The final tally over a six day period: 78 hours of work and 35 hours of sleep.

Stu is living the life of a typical Japanese "salaryman," or office worker. Considered by many to be the backbone of Japan's economy, these employees are expected to always put the company first. They work brutal hours, often followed by marathon drinking sessions with colleagues and clients.

Stu's video has been viewed more than 650,000 times on YouTube, but as the expat explains in a second video, he is perfectly fine with his workaholic lifestyle.

"I deserve no sympathy," he said. "When I accepted this job offer, I knew perfectly well that there was this busy season."

Stu said he takes solace in the temporary nature of his assignment. At the end of March, he expects to return to normal working hours. But not everyone will be so lucky.

"There are definitely people in Tokyo who do this all year round in order to support their families," Stu said. "I couldn't imagine having to do this if I had those kinds of responsibilities as well."

Related: Shinzo Abe tells Japan, Inc. to raise wages or else!

Relief could be on the way for some workers. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing labor reforms that would abolish overtime pay for specialists earning more than 10 million yen a year ($83,000). The idea is that by ending overtime pay, workers will be encouraged to leave the office earlier.

Unions have objected to the plan, saying it will not reduce the number of hours worked -- only compensation.

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