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Noah Smith

Japan’s Work Culture Gets a Needed Covid-19 Shock

Remote work may have finally persuaded the nation’s corporate leaders that endless hours at the office are a waste.

This guy should be home in bed. 

This guy should be home in bed. 


Japan’s corporate culture is stuck in a bad place. But the coronavirus pandemic might have given it just the nudge it needs to get out of the trap.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, the country developed a corporate system that worked well. Managers, rather than shareholders, controlled companies, allowing long-term planning and investment, keeping employment levels high and fostering economic equality. Workers were hired with the presumption that they would be at one company for their entire career, which gave their employer an incentive to spend lots of resources training them. And everyone worked very long hours.