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Ask Senpai: Is work-life balance in Japan good?

Work-life balance in Japan has been considered poor compared to many other countries. Long working hours and a culture of overworking, known as “karoshi” (death by overwork), have been major issues in Japan for decades. However, is it still happening in 2023? Let’s ask the Senpai or the employees who have been working in Japan!

We gather these answers from Tokhimo Review, our company review platform for employees in Japan. Tokhimo Review allows employees to anonymously share their working experiences in some positions or companies, especially regarding foreign employees’ support and the international environment.

Here is what they said about work-life balance in Japan. Click the link to find more reviews.

  • Do employees always have to work overtime?

Cultural expectations of loyalty to one’s employer and a hierarchical and competitive corporate culture are some factors that cause high rates of overtime in Japan. Employees are expected to be dedicated to the company by spending long hours in the office. (Also Read: Working in a Japanese Company as a Foreigner)

Overtime is expected, employees are not really encouraged to take breaks. Read full review.

Overtime is regarded as obvious, something that cannot be avoided. Most people stay late out of social pressure and heavy workload caused by incompetent managers, poor division of labor and inefficient, mostly paper-based internal systems. Read full review.

However, not all employees in Japan experience long working hours. Many of them have little to no overtime.

I felt the work-life balance was really good. The hours were stable and there was no overtime… Read full review.

You can get off you work as soon as the bell rangs, and also can take your leave without having so much discussions with the superior. Read full review.

Its good. No comment for this. They were not recommending to take overtime if it is not so necessary. Read full review.

Also, a reviewer gives tips to avoid unnecessary overtime. You need to know your limit and when to say no, even to your employer. After all, doing too many things will decrease your productivity and the quality of your work.

Those who can defend themselves from the never-ending tasks outside the scope of their work can avoid overtime to certain extent… Read full review.

  • How many days of paid leave or vacation could an employee get?

Loyalty for Japanese employees is not just to avoid leaving work on time but also to avoid taking paid leave. Full-time employees can get 10 to 20 paid leave depending on how long they have worked there. On top of that, Japan has 16 public holidays a year. (Also Read: How Annual Leave in Japan Work)

Good WLB, no overtime and all vacation days can be used. Company provides annual leave above the legal minimum. Read full review.

Work-life balance is good. No work on weekends and holidays. Read full review.

If you come from countries quite far from Japan, you may want to check if the company allows taking consecutive leave for weeks in case you want to visit your home country. Long vacations are available in some companies, and some companies don’t let them. In some cases, employees can’t take many days off because no one can cover their job.

You can get complete week off also so it's like good if you are travel person. Read full review.

That's the best part: company treats you well and doesn't bother you if you want to take time off, even very long vacations. Read full review.

Although I'm a foreigner who needs to go back home once in a while, my manager didn't let me take a two-week vacation, stating that I would lose my touch if I stayed off work for two weeks. Read full review.

Although there are plenty of annual vacation days, vacation is difficult to plan due to the lack of substitute staffing. Read full review.

  • Can employees work as working parents?

If you are a parent-soon-to-be, you don’t have to worry. The Japanese government has a childcare leave law that allows both mother and father to take up to one year and two months of paid leave. Although the exact amount may differ in practice, employers can’t deny employees the right to have days off. Here’s a company that receives good reviews from their employees.

Very healthy work/life balance. Great company for working parents. Read full review.

Parents are entitled to maternity and childcare leaves

  • Do employees have time for hobbies and enjoying themselves?

Life in Japan has so much to offer. It’s a shame to spend all your time in the office and miss the wholesome experiences you can only find there. The Senpai has proved that having a fulfilling life outside work is possible. You can enjoy your hobby, socialize, and even get side cash.

There is work life balance here in AWS. Many extra curricular activities and clubs. Since, I am in the basketball club, we have weekly games and sometimes having fun outside work. Read full review.

I had weekends off and enough time in the evening to do some side work. Read full review.

  • Disclaimer: it’s all depending on your position and company.

Everyone has their own story about Japan, which can be different each time. Many employees in Tokhimo Review state that how much work-life balance you can get in Japan depends on your role and company.

Some positions have remote-working benefits

Work-life balance depends heavily on the department. Read full review.

Work/life balance highly depends on the project/department. Overall Work/Life balance was appreciated. But if you are in a busy project or department that has workaholic culture, it would be different. Read full review.

There is total flexibility to manage your life but depending on your role you might get very busy. Read full review.

Highly dependent on the functional area and exposure to the semiconductor cycle. On average, work/life balance is okay, under 40 hours overtime per month, but customer-facing functions during shortages and quality engineers generally have longer hours. Read full review


While there are still challenges to be faced, Japan has made significant progress in improving work-life balance for its citizens. The implementation of flexible work arrangements, increased vacation time, greater awareness of mental health, and family-friendly policies are just some of the positive developments that have been made. As Japan continues to prioritize work-life balance, we can hope to see further progress in the years to come.


Looking for career opportunities in Japan?

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Looking for career opportunities in Japan?

Create your profile in Tokhimo Jobs and let recruiters approach you!
Set up your account easily and for free.

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