Labor bureau: Japanese man, 45, died of overwork
By JAY ALABASTER, Associated Press Writer Wed Jul 9, 12:33 PM ET
TOKYO – A Japanese labor bureau has ruled that one of Toyota’s top car engineers died from working too many hours, the latest in a string of such findings in a nation where extraordinarily long hours for some employees has long been the norm.
The man who died was aged 45 and had been under severe pressure as the lead engineer in developing a hybrid version of Toyota’s blockbuster Camry line, said Mikio Mizuno, the lawyer representing his wife. The man’s identity is being withheld at the request of his family, who continue to live in Toyota City where the company is based.
In the two months up to his death, the man averaged more than 80 hours of overtime per month, according to Mizuno.
He regularly worked nights and weekends, was frequently sent abroad and was grappling with shipping a model for the pivotal North American International Auto Show in Detroit when he died of ischemic heart disease in January 2006. The man’s daughter found his body at their home the day before he was to leave for the United States.
The ruling was handed down June 30 and will allow his family to collect benefits from his work insurance, Mizuno said.
An officer at the Aichi Labor Bureau on Wednesday confirmed the ruling, but declined to comment on the record.
In a statement, Toyota Motor Corp. offered its condolences and said it would work to improve monitoring of the health of its workers.
There is an effort in Japan to cut down on deaths from overwork, known as “karoshi.” Such deaths have steadily increased since the Health Ministry first recognized the phenomenon in 1987.
Last year, a court in central Japan ordered the government to pay compensation to Hiroko Uchino, the wife of a Toyota employee who collapsed at work and died at age 30 in 2002. She took the case to court after her application to the local labor bureau for compensation was rejected. (source)
Holy Sailor Moon! I thought I worked alot, but these guys win the prize!
If you’ve ever been to Tokyo, you know it’s pretty common to look up at the many office towers and see businessmen still hard at work at 9, 10, or even 11PM. They are crazy-loco about getting the job done and often will even stay the night in their offices. And, of course, everyone knows the stories about the “capsule hotels”, which are kind of like morgue filing cabinets for commuters who miss the last train out of the city. (Here are pics from one such hotel, located on top of my favorite McDonald’s in the whole world: the Shinjuku Beatles-themed McD’s. “Herp! I need somebawdy! Herp! Not just anybawdy!” They also make a kick-ass Wasabi Cheebugga there. Someday I will get around to posting about my ratings of different McD’s around the world.).
What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. Karoshi. Sorry, I got all distracted thinking about Japanese fast food outlets. Anyways, the Japanese Department of Health and Labour published a study a while back that said in 2007, “147 workers died, many from strokes or heart attacks, and about 208 more fell severely ill from overwork in the year to March, the highest figure on record and 7.6 percent up from the previous year. Another 819 workers contended they became mentally ill due to overwork, with 205 cases given compensation…. Mentally troubled workers killed themselves or attempted to do so in 176 cases.” Zowie!
I call bull on all this! Or maybe I call “donkatsu“, because it’s much more delicious than bull. As I’ve gotten older I subscribe to the “You load 16 tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt” mindset. I work my ass off to get a decent place to live way out in the suburbs of Tokyo. I have to live in the outskirts because it’s too friggin expensive to afford so much as a closet in the Ginza or Harijuku neighborhoods. Then I have a couple of kids, and they have to go to private schools. Oh, and they need all the creepy Japanese designer clothes. And my wife needs that new LV purse for 180,000 Yen. And I really need a BMW X5. And we need…. blah blah blah. People are working themselves literally to death in Japan (and a few other placs as well) just to afford the basics in life & to show their loyalty to the company, and then it’s to afford a few nice extras and to prove they’re working harder than everyone else, and then it’s to afford to keep a high-lifestyle we all “deserve”,…
I’m out. Deal me the hell out of this stupidity.
And on that depressing note, I need to go get something to eat because for some reason this post has made me hungry and possibly a little light-headed.