|The Japanese have a reputation for working very
long hours. Traditionally, Japanese workers were recruited from high school
or university by large companies. Most people stayed with the same company
all their working life. Companies treated their workers well, often providing
them with housing and health insurance. In return, they expected loyalty
and hard work. Even during their spare time, workers would often engage
in work-related social activities. Today, however, economic problems have
weakened the bond between employers and employees. Young people are less
likely than their parents to devote such long hours to work.
|Japan industrialized rapidly after the Second
World War. Today the country is known for the high quality of its manufactured
goods. Japan is also one of the worlds most important shipbuilders and
car manufacturers. It has advanced industrial plants for making electronic
goods such as computers, cameras and televisions. In addition, Japan produces
steel, synthetic rubber, aluminum, sulfuric acid, plastics, cement and
pulp and paper.
Japan has limited farmland because of its vast
mountainous territory. Instead, the country relies on the sea as a source
of food. The Japanese fishing fleet catches more fish than any other country
in the world. However, in recent years, the fishing industry has faced
problems because of overfishing and water pollution.
Did you know?
high pressure of the Japanese workplace has led to a number of deaths from
stress-related disorders. The Japanese call this problem karoshi,
or death from overwork.
|The stock market crash in 1992 and the decline
of property values pushed the Japanese economy into a recession. Many companies
declared bankruptcy. Others reduced wages or laid off workers. Because
work is so important to the Japanese, these problems have caused great
Women make up 38% of the work force, but most senior
jobs are held by men. Although Japan has pay equity legislation, women
usually make less money than men. Attitudes toward women are changing,
but many companies still have a two-track system for women: a general track
where the work pace is slower and the assignments less challenging, and
an integrated track where women are given the same work as men and are
expected to work the same hours. Women who leave work to raise children
have difficulty getting promoted when they return, since promotion is often
based on length of service. The government is working to improve equality
in the workplace.