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  • 12.29.16

A reckoning for Japan’s fatal culture of overwork 

The suicide last year of a young ad executive who leapt to her death after working more than 100 hours of overtime is forcing Japanese officials and business leaders to come to terms with the country’s infamous culture of overwork. In Japan, the phenomenon is known as karoshi, and it was deemed the reason that 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi killed herself on December 25, 2015.  

The incident not only sparked government raids on the offices of Dentsu, the firm where Takahashi worked, but it also led to the country’s first-ever white paper on the problem, Reuters reports. That study found that employees worked more than 80 hours of monthly overtime at a fifth of Japanese companies. The issue has Japan’s prime minister finally pushing for tougher overtime restrictions. 

And this week, the fallout continued: Dentsu’s president, Tadashi Ishii, announced he will be stepping down early next year. “It is extremely regrettable that we could not prevent overwork by a new recruit,” he told reporters. 

[Photo: Flickr user Ignacio Gómez Cuesta]CZ