In the countries that work the hardest, social norms and legislation are changing in a way that is more conducive to wellness. In Japan, the country that invented the term for death by overwork (karoshi), Prime Minister Abe has just pushed through a piece of “work-style” legislation that will curb working hours by introducing mandatory caps on overtime hours and penalties for violators.
Meanwhile, in South Korea (another perpetrator of inhumanely long working hours), businesses with more than 300 employees must now cut the maximum working week from 68 to 52 hours. This is still a long working week (when compared, for example, with the 35 hours of France), but at least awareness is growing, and the trend is going in the right direction.
It will be interesting to see whether these policy decisions aimed at reducing working hours are emulated in other countries, including those that start from a much lower workweek base (such as Germany).