It is well known that Japan’s workplaces have long been plagued by severe overwork. During the bursting of the economic bubble in the 1990s, the lifetime employment system and seniority-based promotion system in Japan collapsed. Faced with immense survival pressure, the Japanese, fearing the loss of their jobs, became extremely cautious and diligent in their positions. Regardless of rain or shine, or even when sick and hospitalized, work always came first. They not only worked tirelessly like oxen and horses during office hours but also had to accompany their superiors and seniors for drinks after work, often ending up drunk on the streets. They frequently worked overtime without complaint and without compensation.
They were like livestock that had given up their bodies and souls, dedicating their entire lives to the company. It was precisely because they had had enough of the humiliation of work that Japan became the birthplace of the term “shachiku” (company livestock).
Just by casually watching the daily life vlogs of a Japanese “shachiku,” one can catch a glimpse of a group of struggling individuals crushed and distorted by their jobs: working 130 hours a week, only getting two hours of sleep at night, relying on excessive consumption of carbohydrates and heavy drinking to relieve stress. The mere thought of going to work makes their legs feel like they’re filled with lead, and they are berated by their bosses every day, saying, “You either complete this task today or go die.”
However, after Japan’s economy went through the “lost three decades,” scenes like these will no longer be the norm for young people in Japan. Having seen the hellish workplaces where their parents toiled and perished, it seems that this generation of young Japanese wants to take it a bit easier and lie down more comfortably.