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How can Asia clock out?

Region struggles to come to grips with its epidemic of overwork

A high-pressure corporate culture means many employees in Asia are on call around the clock. (Photo by Shinya Sawai)

JAKARTA -- Asia's economic rise has come with some downsides: income inequality in countries such as Indonesia and Thailand, environmental degradation in Vietnam and China, uncontrolled urban sprawl and clogged traffic in Manila and Mumbai.

For millions of employees, from those in low-paying factory jobs to high-pressure corporate positions, long working hours are another pitfall. Japan and South Korea are Asia's longest-established high-income economies and both figure at the wrong end of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's index of working hours.

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