Key Words: There’s a word for the fateful moment when Japan’s penchant for hard work turns deadly

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The Japanese have a word, perhaps unsurprisingly, for morbid workaholism:

‘Karoshi.’

The New York Times, in a Friday story detailing the death-by-overwork of a 31-year-old Tokyo journalist, noted that the phenomenon had first been identified in the 1980s.

The journalist’s death, of congestive heart failure, came four years ago, and its cause was tied to her working life by a government probe that concluded the following year. It was finally revealed this week by her employer, a state-run broadcaster, the Times reported, to coincide with planned workplace reforms.

Earlier this year, Japan’s government teamed with a business group to launch an effort, the Times noted, encouraging companies to allow workers to leave the office at 3 p.m. on the final Friday of each month. Just a fraction of companies, according to the Times report, are participating.

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