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Lessons from Vietnam

Since the beginning, Japan has built a reputation for its rigid discipline when it comes to work and school. But when a woman committed suicide in 2015 due to too much pressure in the office and made headlines all across the world, it begged the question of what are the boundaries of discipline?

Vietnam is also known for being a hardworking nation, but one with more balance compared to its Southeast Asian neighbour. Vietnamese companies and schools impose strict office and school rules, but also make sure their employees leave the office on time and even implement long lunch hours in order to make room for rest before going back to work. In schools, students are made to take a nap after lunch in order to regain their energy.

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In Japan, employees are overworked, to say the least. If they have to work overtime, it is regarded as ineptitude on their part and won’t be compensated. In contrast, when Vietnamese employees need to work overtime, they are properly paid for their extra service.

Women labourers in Vietnam are granted at an average of 26 weeks of maternity and child-care leave. This is based on the agreement of the U.N. agency International Labor Organization which is twice the standard time among all the other members of the Association of Southeast Nations.

Japan may take pride in its inarguably highly progressive and technologically-advanced country, but with its rising number of burned-out workers, how long will it take before this “success” will boil over and cause its even bigger downfall? Maybe it’s high time that it takes a lesson from its unassuming neighbour Vietnam and learn that it’s not all about work, that is takes a balance of rest and even leisure as well in order to be more efficient in the office and in school.

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