'Pushed to the Limit': 23-Year-Old's Death Blamed on Overwork

Japan's labor standard office certifies another karoshi victim
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 11, 2017 11:50 AM CDT
190 Hours of Overtime in a Month: Another Death From Overwork in Japan
In this July 23, 2017 photo, Japan's new National Stadium, foreground, is seen under construction in Tokyo.   (Yohei Kanasashi/Kyodo News via AP)

The Japan labor standard office has determined that the suicide of a 23-year-old man who worked at Tokyo's new Olympic stadium construction site stemmed from overwork, and therefore his family was eligible for government compensation, the AP reports. Hiroshi Kawahito, a lawyer representing the victim's family, said on Tuesday that the victim, in charge of quality control of materials at the stadium site, recorded 190 hours of overtime in one month before killing himself in March, according to Japan's NHK public television. The worker was less than a year on the job. The amount of overtime was way over 80 hours, a threshold for karoshi, or death from overwork. Labor officials in Tokyo found that the victim, who was not identified by name, also recorded 160 hours of overtime in January.

The death of the worker captured national attention in July when his family sought the government to certify him as a karoshi victim. The body of the man was found in the central Japan mountains in April, weeks after he disappeared, with a suicide note saying he was "physically and mentally pushed to the limit." Government and company officials say they have since kept close tabs on overwork and taken measures to improve the working environment. Other high-profile karoshi cases include a 24-year-old who committed suicide in 2015 after working 100 hours of overtime a month, a 31-year-old reporter who died of heart failure in 2013, and a 30-year-old who collapsed and died after putting in more than 80 hours of OT.

(More overwork stories.)

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