The death of a 31-year-old political reporter in Japan has been attributed to overwork, reigniting discussion in the country over a demanding workplace culture that encourages long hours above all else. NHK reporter Miwa Sado, who died of heart failure in 2013, had reportedly worked 159 hours of overtime in the month before her death from heart failure.
As a result of Japan’s “salaryman” culture, one in five workers in the country are at risk of working themselves to death, government studies have found. The phenomenon is apparently common enough that the Japanese language even has a specific word for death by overwork: karoshi. A 2014 law had called on companies to reduce the risk of karoshi by easing working conditions, but offered no requirements that companies actually do so.
In a similar case in 2015, Matsuri Takahashi, an advertising worker, killed herself after a month in which she worked 105 hours of overtime. The CEO of the company resigned after investigators found that she had been forced into working excessively long hours, resulting in her suicide.
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