Dentsu chief to re­sign over em­ployee over­work sui­cide

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

The pres­i­dent of top Ja­panese ad­ver­tis­ing com­pany Dentsu Inc. said yes­ter­day he will re­sign to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the sui­cide of a worker who had clocked mas­sive over­time in her first months on the job. Pres­i­dent Tadashi Ishii said at a Tokyo news con­fer­ence he will ten­der his res­ig­na­tion at a board meet­ing in Jan­uary al­though he will stay through March as a cour­tesy to share­hold­ers.

Ear­lier Wed­nes­day, gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties filed pa­pers de­mand­ing pros­e­cu­to­rial charges against the uniden­ti­fied Dentsu em­ployee sus­pected of driv­ing Mat­suri Taka­hashi to sui­cide from over­work.

Ja­panese so­ci­ety val­ues con­form­ity and tends to revere worka­holic life­styles. Death linked to ex­haus­tion is so com­mon it’s ex­pressed as a spe­cial term, “karoshi,” which in­cludes sui­cides from over­work. About 2,000 peo­ple a year kill them­selves due to work-re­lated stress, the gov­ern­ment says.

Taka­hashi, 24, had just started work­ing at Dentsu in April 2015. Her work­load surged in Oc­to­ber and she of­ten re­turned home at five in the morn­ing af­ter work­ing all day and night. Taka­hashi was clock­ing 100 hours of over­time a month be­fore she jumped from her com­pany dorm bal­cony in De­cem­ber 2015.

‘Why do things have to be so hard?’

She left a farewell email beg­ging her mother to not blame her­self. “You’re the best mom in the world,” Taka­hashi had writ­ten. “But why do things have to be so hard?” The gov­ern­ment in Septem­ber ruled that over­work caused her death. Tokyo-based Dentsu, which was raided last month by la­bor reg­u­la­tors, has re­peat­edly promised to cur­tail over­time, sus­pected of be­ing wide­spread at the com­pany. It started turn­ing off head­quar­ters lights at 10 p.m. so work­ers would go home.

But Ishii ac­knowl­edged the prob­lem has not been fixed. The com­pany said Wed­nes­day that more than 100 work­ers were still do­ing more than 80 hours of over­time a month. “This is some­thing that should never have been al­lowed to hap­pen,” Ishii told re­porters of Taka­hashi’s sui­cide. The com­pany ac­knowl­edged Taka­hashi’s treat­ment was like ha­rass­ment be­cause her records showed monthly over­time within com­pany reg­u­la­tions of 70 hours, with num­bers like 69.9 hours, when she had ac­tu­ally been work­ing far more hours. The first per­son to be of­fi­cially ruled a sui­cide from over­work was also a Dentsu em­ployee. Ichiro Oshima, 24, didn’t get a sin­gle day off for 17 months and had av­er­aged less than two hours of sleep a night. Still, Dentsu had ar­gued in the 1997 court case that per­sonal trou­bles were be­hind his 1991 sui­cide.

TOKYO: Pres­i­dent of the top Ja­panese ad­ver­tis­ing com­pany Dentsu Inc Tadashi Ishii, cen­ter, bows with other se­nior ex­ec­u­tives dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at the com­pany’s head­quar­ters.

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