Miwa Sado, a political reporter with the broadcaster NHK, died from heart failure.
Miwa Sado, a political reporter with the broadcaster NHK, died from heart failure.

Reporter died from 'overwork'

A JAPANESE journalist died from overwork after clocking up 159 hours of overtime in the run-up to her death, inspectors have ruled.

Miwa Sado, a political reporter with broadcaster NHK, died from heart failure in 2013, but her bosses made the case public only this week.

Officials in Tokyo claim the 31-year-old died from overwork - known as "karoshi” in Japan - after taking just two days off in the 30 days before she died, reports The Japan Times.

That worked out at an average of 5.9 hours overtime a day including weekends - about twice the average contracted working week of 40 hours.

Ms Sado covered the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and died just three days after reporting on a local election in the House of Councillors.

Masahiko Yamauchi, a senior official at the broadcaster, said Ms Sado's death was a "problem for our organisation as a whole, including the labour system and how elections are covered”.

Her parents said: "Even today, four years after, we cannot accept our daughter's death as a reality.

"We hope that the sorrow of the bereaved family will never be wasted.”

According to a national survey, a fifth of the country's workforce are at risk of karoshi, since they clock more than 80 hours extra work time each month.

With about 2000 people a year killing themselves due to work-related stress, the Japanese government has recently taken action to address the issue.

It recently launched a campaign urging employees to leave early at 3pm on the last Friday of every month.

And in May it outed more than 300 companies that had breached labour laws.

Karoshi - or death from overwork - has been blamed on a combination of Japanese workers' commitment to duty and increased competition for jobs.

Over the past decade, long hours, unpaid overtime - known as "service overtime” - and shorter holidays have become the norm.

The Japanese government released its first ever investigation into the karoshi crisis last year revealing staff at 12% of corporations put in more than 100 hours of overtime every month.

Employees of a further 23% of the nation's companies were only slightly better off, working 80 hours of overtime each month.

And the true figures may be even worse, as only 1743 of the 10,000 companies across the nation invited to take part in the inquiry did so.

In the 2015, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare recognised 93 suicides and attempted suicides as having been caused by overwork. That figure jars with police statistics, however, which indicate problems related to work were to blame in 2159 suicides that year.

The ministry's figures are also overshadowed by the number of legal cases filed by relatives of victims of karoshi. In the year to April 2015, 1456 cases were filed with authorities. In comparison, in the four years between 2004 and 2008, 1576 cases were filed.

- The Sun