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Most Useless Subway Poster In The History Of Useless Subway Posters

Yesterday I was walking through Ueno Station, and I spotted this

People dropping dead at their desks (or committing suicide out of despair at their never-ending pile of work) is such a thing in Japan that it’s even been given it its own mascot-like name and kanji spelling: 過労死 (karoshi). And right now, death from overwork is in the news again, because companies are finally being successfully sued and told to fork over damages to victims’ families

I’ve posted before about silly subway posters that warn against kicking the ticket wicketpitching a beer in the station attendant’s face and walking while rockabilly, but this one takes the cake for sheer WHAT THE HELL?

Because some faceless bureaucrat (yes, this is a message from the Japanese government) thought that printing posters exhorting commuters to “STOP! DEATH FROM OVERWORK” was the most effective use of whatever money has been grudgingly doled out to combat the actual serious problem of employers burdening their workers with such a Sisyphean amount of work that they die from never sleeping, never going home, and basically never having a life.

I mean, who is this message even intended to reach? The gray-haired CEO? Nah, he’s not rubbing shoulders with the rank and file on the subway, he’s sitting behind his driver being swanned to work while reading the newspaper. Oh. That’s right. It’s a subway poster. It must be intended for  the poor sods who cram into a train car twice a day (unless they’ve got too much work to go home).

And DUH, that makes total sense. Obviously, they’re the ones who are dying, so they must be the problem. Let’s just tell them to stop dying from karoshi. MY WORK HERE IS DONE.

Tip o’ the tip beanie to Jake Adelstein, whose ever-keen journalistic eyes were the first to spot this WTFery

If you love all things Japan, you might enjoy The Last Tea Bowl Thief too

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, altering the lives of all who possess itread more

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

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