A salaryman sleeps standing up as he waits on a commuter train platform in Tokyo. The word karoshi (literally death by overwork) came into common use around 1990, when Japanese workers began working longer hours in response to competition from overseas and the recession at the time. Despite increased awareness of the dangers of overwork, de-regulation and increased global competition means that Japanese workers are working harder than ever. About 20 years ago, heart attacks or strokes were a symbol of 'karoshi' in Japan. Today, a major change is workers are committing suicide. .