Saturday, June 10, 2006

Tired staff costing Japan $30bn

The Japanese long hours/lack of sleep culture is hardly a secret, but this article (which I've not seem publicised in Japan) suggests it's getting worse not better. However, I'm a bit suspicious of where these numbers come from. People can only achieve a certain work rate and the fact that they also spend a few hours sleeping doesn't necessarily detract from that. The Japanese also take few enough days off work that a few extra to sleep in is hardly a crime. Not that I think it's a good thing to spend long days commuting hours to work and back, only to snore loudly at the desk all day long as one of my cubicle-neighbours regularly does.

I've heard that schoolchildren sometimes fall asleep in class too, and instead of targetting them with a well-aimed chalk (or something larger) as would happen in the UK, the teachers just leave them to it. The children also have silly commutes and absurd amounts of homework. Good preparation for adult life, it seems!


EliRabett said...

This is also a problem in the US, also associated with the lack of vacation time.

jules said...

The Japanese have plenty of vacation time - at least we do - but the Japanese tend not to use it. This is supposed to be the reason that there are so many public holidays - to force people to take some.

The other thing that came as a real shock to us when we came to Japan is that there is no such thing as sick leave. If you are ill you have to use up your vacation and when you have done that you have to start losing pay, or your job! On the other hand women can takes two special girly days off a month when they feel too girly to come to work - supposedly for "phsiological" reasons.


EliRabett said...

To some extent the same thing happens in the states. People with more than two weeks vacation have become afraid that if they take more than a few days at a time the boss will discover that they are not necessary.

EliRabett said...

Oh yes, on girly days, they are strictly optional if you are on birth control pills.

When women are on traditional 21 days on/seven days off birth control, monthly periods are artificial anyway, says reproductive endocrinologist Sheldon Segal, a longtime contraceptive researcher at New York's Population Council and an adjunct professor of pharmacology at Cornell Medical School.

These periods are considered artificial because they're not shedding an unfertilized egg along with the uterine lining. And monthly bleeding, says Segal, "was actually a marketing decision made decades ago when the pill was developed.

"Marketers at the manufacturing company which developed the pill," says Segal, "felt at the time that an oral contraceptive might or might not be accepted by the public. These were very different times. Not only was this the first oral contraceptive but it was the first medication given to healthy women for any purpose at all."

Taking away ovulation and imposing synthetic hormones was already a big change, and apparently marketers felt it might be too much to also take away monthly periods.

"You have to remember also that this was a time before drugstore pregnancy tests, so that if a woman was not bleeding, having a regular menstrual period, she wouldn't know for sure whether she was pregnant or not," says Segal.

"Such anxiety about unintended pregnancy was another reason why marketers felt it was better to have one week off, to allow this artificial menses to occur," he explains.

James Annan said...

Japan and the pill is a whole story to itself. It was only finally approved about 5 years ago, after decades of stalling. It is still apparently hard to get prescribed, expensive and deliberately made awkward to use (eg only available on short-term prescriptions, and internal examinations are required every 3 months).

It's not clear how much this is due to the money that doctors make from abortions (very common here) and how much is just due to the whole patriarchal control/women's place is in the home thing. Note that viagra was approved before the pill, after only a few months of consideration!

EliRabett said...

In the US many of the health insurance plans picked up Viagra almost immediately. This allowed them finally to be shamed into paying for birth control pills, after decades of not doing so.