Karoshi for kids

By Jonathan Jones
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China.org.cn, April 22, 2011
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With the dangers of overwork finally being taking seriously, isn't it about time we extended the same principles to China's next generation?

Working long hours is something most of us have had to endure at one time or another but the recent tragic death of Pan Jie, a 25-year old auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Shanghai, has shown the danger of making it a constant feature in your life.

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The Japanese built their post-war economic miracle on the salaryman, someone who was willing to work every hour required for no extra reward than a guaranteed salary. While living standards improved, more and more families lost their fathers to work, and in some cases the loss was permanent. "Karoshi" became shorthand for people who simply worked themselves to death.

Fast forward to modern-day China and we are faced with frightening similarities. The drive for profit, higher living standards and material possessions demands an enormous commitment in working hours from both men and women.


Sometimes there are hard choices to be made between financial gain and quality of life, but at least as adults we are free to make that choice. Our children, on the other hand, have the choice imposed upon them.

China's school system is rigid and inflexible and there is no way for students to opt out of overtime. When the school day ends, homework begins, along with additional studies and revision for tests and examinations.

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