On March 19, veteran animator Mizuno Kazunori, mostly known for his work on ‘Naruto‘ and ‘Bleach,’ passed away at the age of 52. His colleagues were the one who announced his death via Twitter.
What makes it sadder is that he died of karoshi, or death from overwork. According to the report, he had actually intended to take a nap but he ended up passing away as he slept. Unfortunately, this is has been more of a norm for the businessmen in Japan. A Telegraph article revealed last October that cases of karoshi escalated from around 1500 from 2004-08 to around the same number from March 2014 to March 2015.
One of the things that has to be looked at is the job culture of Japan. It’s not unusual for a single businessman to have clocked in over 60 hours of work within a week, as 12% of company employees put in 100 overtime hours a month and 23% of company employees are putting in 80 overtime hours a month. After all, the more hours you put in, the better you look for the company. There’s still very much a belief in the Japanese working society that seniority matters — if you get promoted, you get more money and you’ll gain more power. But how do you get promoted? Simple; devote your life to your work. The quantity of work is more important than the quality of work you put out. While that logic can be hard to understand, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like things are going to change any time soon.
Supposedly, the Japanese government had been trying to introduce a legal ceiling of overtime a person can take but, as usual, the government are dragging their feet. They also intend to convince all workers to take at least 70% of their paid holidays by 2020. Sounds good, right? Well, when your working culture has been so deep-rooted, it’s really hard to shake off old habits at the snap of the fingers.
2020 will be too late for many workers anyway, including Mizuno Kazunari, whose industry is no stranger to people being overworked to the point of health deterioration.
Rest in peace, Mizuno Kazunori.