Sat, Oct 14, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Japan pledges an end to ‘karoshi’

Reuters, TOKYO

A Japanese sports official yesterday promised to work with the builder of a showpiece stadium for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo to stamp out “death by overwork,” a designation authorities applied last week to the suicide of a stadium worker.

The parents of the 23-year-old petitioned the government this year to recognize his suicide as karoshi — death by overwork — with media saying he had worked 200 hours of overtime a month before his death.

“To our regret, illegal overtime was recognized as a result of inspection by the labor ministry,” said Tadashi Mochizuki, director of stadium manager the Japan Sport Council (JSC), which is part of a joint venture with construction firm Taisei Corp. “We, JSC and Taisei, took it sincerely and we’ll do the utmost [to comply with the law] in proceeding with construction.”

Authorities unveiled a model of the new stadium in Tokyo, which is set to be completed in November 2019, after construction begun in December last year.

Japan’s fast-aging society has left employers grappling with an acute labor shortage.

It officially recognizes two types of karoshi: cardiovascular illness linked to overwork, and suicide following mental stress related to work.

Employers face few curbs on overtime and pay, so that more than one-fifth of company staff exceeded a government overtime threshold of 80 hours a month, a white paper showed last year.

The trend was spotlighted by a high-profile death from overwork in 2015 at advertising giant Dentsu Inc.

Last week, public broadcaster NHK said a 31-year-old reporter died four years ago of overwork.

To tackle the problem, the government plans sweeping reforms of job practices, including overtime caps and better pay for part time and contract workers.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top