Japan: Dangerous Suicide Rate

by Justin on September 5, 2017 - 3:34am

In an article published on BBC by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes on July 3rd, 2015, alarming numbers about suicide are listed. In fact, over 2014, more than 25 000 people committed suicide. This means a rate of 70 every day. "Isolation is the number one precursor for depression and suicide," says Wataru Nishida, a psychologist at Tokyo's Temple University. Seeking help for people who need it can be troublesome. There is a shortage of psychiatrists, and the industry is “free-for-all”, meaning anyone can decide to advertise him or herself as a counsellor, without the need of any official document or verification. This makes it hard to know if the person actually knows what they are doing. In this country, depression is automatically associated with suicide, and it is an extremely taboo subject. People do not know much about it, which makes those suffering from depression scared to talk about it. But why is Japan in such a state?


Japan’s work culture is very different from America’s or Europe’s. Over 22% of Japanese work 14 hours every day. “Yuu Wakebe, a health ministry official overseeing policy on working hours, who admits putting in 100 hours of overtime a month, blames the irresistible pressure to match one’s colleagues, hour for hour.” A lot of pressure is put on the Japanese, and this influences every aspect of their lives. Almost no one, says Erika Sekiguchi, takes their full vacations. Children are taught as early as elementary school that very hard work is to be praised, as vacations are very short, and packed with homework. They are working all the time, and this leaves room to very little time to rest and take time for themselves. Technology is also to blame for this high suicide rate in Japan. In the small amount of time people have to take care of them, they isolate themselves from other people, making social interactions even more rare and hard to deal with. They spend all their free time on computers and intelligent technology, and this makes them forget how to act in front of real people. Mr. Nishida says "Young people in Japan have a lot of knowledge, but they have no life experience. They have no idea how to express their emotions. So when young people do find themselves isolated and depressed, they have few places to turn to.” Young people in Japan need to be taught that time to rest and socialize with other people is important, because maintaining a good mental health is as important as maintaining our physical bodies healthy. They should be forced out of work to go on their entire vacations every holidays, without work to worry about, and use the advanced technology Japan has to strengthen bonds with other beings.



Both Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and Justin McMcurry have lived in Japan for about 20 years, and have been reporters for a good while, which makes them reliable sources as of what concerns Japan.


I knew that the work culture in Asian countries is intense and stressful. But I did not realize that 22% of Japanese work 14 hours a day, which I find is more extreme than I perceived it to be. I would argue that because the reporter has lived in Japan for 20 years does not mean they have the resources or knowledge to discuss this topic accurately. I am not saying McCurry is an unreliable source because, according to the following link, Justin McCurry has not only worked for the Guardian but Daily Yomiuri and has contributed to the Lancet medical journal in London. With this, McCurry was not born in the country in question, so we must take into consideration that there is a possibility that he can never truly understand the pressure that the Japanese undergo at work. On this website, Writers in Kyoto, they wrote about Justin McCurry's talk, he even said that the writing style of English press and the word choice is much different than the one of the Japanese so that if it had been a Japanese writer, the tone of the story could have been different.


This is a really interesting article on a truly important and difficult subject, it’s really good of you to give attention to this issue. I’d like to add some information to help improve the veracity of your information. Notably, the articles you consulted were from 2015, so I would suggest consulting this recent article that not only covers the updated statistics shared in your post, but also details the efforts the government are taking to tackle the issue, such as the creation of hotlines and resources to help people who have attempted suicide. The article comes from the Japan Times, which, according to World Eye Reports, is a reputable news source and the largest English newspaper in Japan.

I thank you for the link you have given about Justin McCurry(in fact, i used this website to verify his reliability, but forgot to link it with the other articles in my summary). I cannot agree with you about the articles being biased because of different cultures. Statistics cannot be biased, therefore the "way of understanding things" cannot be altered by culture, because a fact remains a fact, no matter what language and which culture it comes from. This said, it is true that we may not see the pressure under work the same way as Japanese people do, but it remains that the physical state of a human is exhausted from the amount the huge amount of work these people put their bodies under.


About the author

Internet veteran and specialist, I enjoy learning about science and about other countries. Also FFXIV hardcore player if anyone happens to know.