Japanese Employees Can Now Undergo Stress Test

February 8, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. amend / əˈmɛnd / (v.) – to make changes
Example: The government amended the law to change the legal smoking age from 21 to 18.

2. provision / prəˈvɪʒ ən / (n.) – a condition written in a legal document
Example: Requiring employees to take annual medical checkups is one of the provisions of the law.

3. take its toll / teɪk ɪts toʊl / (phrasal v.) – to cause loss or damage to something
Example: Her smoking has taken its toll on her health.

4. cope / koʊp / (v.) – to manage to survive
Example: The company hired a counselor to help employees cope with work-related stress.

5. mandatory / ˈmæn dəˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i / (adj.) – describing something that is required
Example: Submitting a drug test result upon employment is now mandatory.


Read the text below.
Employees in Japan can now undergo stress tests as part of their annual health checks.

On June 25, 2014, the Japanese government amended the Industrial Safety and Health Act requiring companies with more than 50 permanent workers to offer annual stress checks to their employees. This new provision took effect in December 2015.

The goal of the test is to determine the stress levels of employees and to help improve working environments. The test, which is in survey questionnaire form, covers three main areas: causes of stress in the workplace, symptoms of stress, and personal relationships. Employers have the option to create their own stress tests or use the health ministry’s 57-item questionnaire.

The government has put the act in place to reduce Japan’s increasing cases of stress-related mental disorders among employees. Based on a 2013 questionnaire by the Japan Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry, 10% of 9,026 businesses in the country had workers who took a month-long leave or resigned because of poor mental health.

According to studies, work-related mental illnesses are taking their toll on Japan’s economy. The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research said in a 2010 study that suicide and depression cases in Japan caused the country to lose about ¥2.7 trillion in 2009 alone.

Certified social insurance labor consultant Kazuo Koiwa expressed his satisfaction with the government’s decision to pass a law that can help workers cope with stressful working environments. However, Koiwa said that since the test is not mandatory, companies need to encourage employees to take it while creating a stress-free working environment.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What do you think are the common causes of stress at work?
·         Do you think it is necessary for the government to make stress tests mandatory? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         If you were an employer, how would you make sure that your employees are free from stress?
·         What is the contribution of personal relationships in lowering stress?

February 8, 2016