Japan has again been forced to confront its work culture after labour inspectors ruled that the death of a 31-year-old journalist at the country’s public broadcaster, NHK, had been caused by overwork.
Miwa Sado, who worked at the broadcaster’s headquarters in Tokyo, logged 159 hours of overtime and took only two days off in the month leading up to her death from heart failure in July 2013.
A labour standards office in Tokyo later attributed her death to karoshi (death from overwork) but her case was only made public by her former employer this week.
Sado’s death is expected to increase pressure on Japanese authorities to address the large number of deaths attributed to the punishingly long hours expected of many employees.
The announcement comes a year after a similar ruling over the death of a young employee at Dentsu advertising agency prompted a national debate over Japan’s attitude to work-life balance and calls to limit overtime.
Matsuri Takahashi was 24 when she killed herself in April 2015. Labour standards officials ruled that her death had been caused by stress brought on by long working hours. Takahashi had been working more than a 100 hours’ overtime in the months before her death.