TOKYO: The death of an NHK female reporter in 2013 was caused by overwork, the Japanese public broadcaster revealed on Wednesday.
Miwa Sado, 31, had clocked 159 hours of overtime with only two days off in the one-month period before her death as a result of congestive heart failure.
A local labour standards office had concluded that her death was attributed to "karoshi", or death from overwork, in May 2014 but it took NHK more than three years to make the case public, Kyodo News reported on Thursday.
The announcement comes after a similar ruling last year over the 2015 death of a young employee at Japan's biggest advertising firm Dentsu Inc. The suicide of 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi had garnered national attention and further fuelled debate on the unhealthy working lifestyle many Japanese workers have to endure.
The incident put Dentsu under the spotlight over excessive hours clocked by the firm's employees and prompted its president, Tadashi Ishii, to resign in January this year. Since then, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration has sought to improve working conditions in the country.
Sado joined NHK in 2005 and covered the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for two years before she died on July 24, just three days after the Upper House election.
NHK said it kept track of her working hours through personal statements and time cards but acknowledged there were areas that required improvement, according to Kyodo.
Masahiko Yamauchi, a senior official at NHK's news department, said the incident was not a personal matter but a "problem for our organisation as a whole, including the labour system and how elections are covered".
When queried about the timing of the announcement, Yamauchi said the broadcaster took into account the wishes of Sado's family, who said they wanted to ensure such an incident never happened again.
"Even today, four years after, we cannot accept our daughter's death as a reality," Sado's parents said in a comment released by NHK. "We hope that the sorrow of the bereaved family will never be wasted."
Dentsu is also on trial for labour practice violations, with a ruling set to be handed down by a Tokyo court Friday. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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