Santa Claus is the latest celebrity to speak out against Japan’s harsh working hours and the phenomenon of Karōshi, death by work.
While the renowned gift-giver is not a Japanese citizen, he says that he has a great deal of sympathy for the young Japanese workforce who, in increasing numbers, are dying due to overwork.
“I really feel sorry for those young Japanese men and women who are finding the stresses and strains of their working life too much for them,” the fat man said from his home at the North Pole. “Working 100 plus hours of overtime is far too much, and I can tell you, they are certainly deserving of the gifts they will find under their tree on Christmas morning. Although, they probably won’t have a tree. Being Japanese, and all.”
However, Santa’s comments have been rebuked by the Japanese government.
“While we recognise Karōshi as a serious problem, as a Laplander, I wouldn’t expect Santa-san to understand the Japanese work culture,” said Kenta Tanaka, Minister for the Japanese Department of Work and Pensions. “In fact, I would suggest that he look closer to home, as I have it on pretty good authority that the conditions for the elves in his factories have a lot to be desired, particularly as he in his capacity of gift deliverer only works a single day in a year.”
When these comments were put to Mr Claus, he not only refuted the claim that his elves were poorly treated, explaining that they were fully unionised and enjoyed some of the best benefits in the working world, including stock option bonuses as well as being the benefactor of any mince pies and whiskey that he is unable to consume during his rounds.
“And as for me just working for a solitary day,” Claus added. “That just shows how ignorant Tanaka is. Even a little research would tell him that many of my days are taken up by data analysis and stock checking. I have these two lists of which I have to be constantly updating, and then when completed, I not only have to check them, but I have to do it twice.
“I’m a bloody slave to my Excel spread sheets, and even the slightest mistake could mean that an undeserving boy or girl could end up with a brand new bike or iPad. But I’ll tell you something, Tanaka-san’s getting a bloody lump of coal this year, and no mistake. Presuming he hasn’t already topped himself from overwork, that is.”