Great op-ed. Much more at the link...
Why do the Japanese Work so Hard? - Japan: Stippy:
"There remains this enormous and wicked sociocultural myth. It is this: Hard work is all there is.
Work hard and the world respects you. Work hard and you can have anything you want. Work really extra super hard and do nothing else but work and ignore your family and spend 14 hours a day at the office and make 300 grand a year that you never have time to spend, sublimate your soul to the corporate machine and enjoy a profound drinking problem and sporadic impotence and a nice 8BR mini-mansion you never spend any time in, and you and your shiny BMW 740i will get into heaven.
This is the Japanese Puritan work ethos (much like that in America of course), still alive and screaming and sucking the world dry. Work is the answer. Work is also the question. Work is the one thing really worth doing and if you’re not working you’re either a slacker or a leech, unless you’re a victim of Koizumi/Abe Co’s budget-reamed Japan and you’ve been laid off, and therefore it’s OK because that means you’re out there every day pounding the pavement looking for work and honing your resume and if you’re not, well, what the hell is wrong with you?
...The powers that be absolutely rely on our lethargy, our rampant doubts, the attitude that says that it’s just too difficult or too impracticable to break away. After all, to quit a bland but stable job, to follow your own path implies breaking the rules and asking hard questions and dissing the status quo. And they absolutely cannot have that.
...We are designed, weaned, trained from Day 1 to be productive members of society. And we are heavily guilted into believing that must involve some sort of droning repetitive pod-like dress-coded work for a larger corporate cause, a consumerist mechanism, a nice happy conglomerate. Is this really how you want your life to turn out? (see video)
But the truth is, God (or whoever it is up above that looks over us…) loves nothing more than to see you unhinge and take risk and invite regular, messy, dangerous upheaval..."