Japan wipes the bad name “workaholic”. No more Zangyo.

October 29, 2014 Juju Kurihara Business, Custom, Vocabulary Tags: 0 Comments

One of the biggest food enterprises, Kagome announced a few days ago that they introduced "No More Zangyo" rule in this May and no employees are allowed to work extra hours after eight. They are aiming to cut the long working hours and increase the efficiency of the employee.

kagome 1Kagome is like a Japanese version of Heinz. Most of the tomato products are made by Kagome in Japan. It´s a very good initiation for many other companies to stop Zangyo (残業). This applies to not only the people who work in the office but also in the manufactories.   

The reason behind is because of the cost rise of the tomatoes and the cost increase regarding to a weak yen in the market, the company needs to cut the cost as much as possible. By controlling Zangyo hours, the company can save the overtime payment.  



While ago, iromegane talked about overtime workThe problem in the Japanese companies is, people stay just because their bosses don´t leave. It´s understandable there is a deadline and they have to finish but just because the boss doesn´t go home, others have to stay late for him. It doesn´t make sense. 

So, Kagome first pressures the tops. Although there is no penalty but the company pushes the bosses to leave by eight at the latest. At eight, the music is played to let people know the time. 

I think this is a good idea. When I worked for a stock company in Japan, one my colleagues was very worried what others would think if she went home earlier while they stay until late. I was just a tempo worker but there were about six or seven employees and they were all women. I knew that they would stay until ten or eleven in the night and they even came on Saturdays if their boss came. It was always "saabisu zangyo (サービス残業/ service overtime work)". 

Those employees couldn´t go home because the boss stayed and my tempo colleague couldn´t go home because the employees stayed. It´s simply a bad cycle. In this sense, the strategy of Kagome is good. They focus on the tops and the rest will leave naturally (without a feeling of guilt).  


teji taisha

More companies are introducing No zangyo Day even though it´s once a week. It´s not easy since Workaholic has become a second name of Japanese people. But they are trying to change among many other things.

I insist, the intention of Kagome is good. But in the reality, how many of Japanese sarariiman (サラリーマン/ businessmen) can close the computer and go home?

Because of the official no-overtime-work rule, companies may force their juniors to work more service overtime? That would be missing the point, wouldn´t it?


no zangyo day


There is an online survey. They asked 429 people between 20 and 40 years old of age. OK, not so many to define, but more than a half, 58.6% answered "I can leave always or most of the time the office on time on No Zangyo Day. And 41.4% said "impossible or most of the time I can´t". 

Smaller the company is, more difficult not to work overtime but about a half of people are doing it. It´s great. 



There are still some issues and problems in this Kagome´s new principle. I saw comments like:

– No penalty? Then it´s just a slogan poster left in the wall.

– Do they pay the overtime payment until 8pm?

– Are they going tell us, "OK, check the time card at 8 and now let´s start working!"?


People are a little sceptical. Although I´m quite optimistic. I hope this movement extend to more companies and Japanese people can enjoy their private life. What is your opinion?


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More about Japanese working situation

Service overtime work 



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