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Gov't oversight failure partly to blame for Dentsu employee suicide: family attorney

Government labor oversight failures were partly to blame for the suicide of a severely overworked employee at advertising giant Dentsu Inc. late last year, an attorney for the woman's bereaved family stated on Oct. 20.

The statement was released by Hiroshi Kawahito, a lawyer for the family of Matsuri Takahashi, who was 24 when she took her own life on Dec. 25 last year.

Meanwhile, the Mita Labor Standards Inspection Office has judged the 2013 death from illness of a 30-year-old male Dentsu worker as also being due to overwork.

In June 2014, Dentsu's Kansai branch was warned by a labor standards inspection office for making its employees work an illegal amount of overtime, and in August 2015 the company's headquarters, where Takahashi and the 30-year-old man worked, was also given such a warning. Takahashi's suicide came about four months after the headquarters was warned.

Kawahito said, "Dentsu has a very heavy responsibility for this," but also said that the Mita labor office "should have known what was happening (at Dentsu headquarters) after their warning."

Hisashi Inoue, secretary-general of the national labor union association Zenroren, says, "There aren't enough labor standards inspection officers. The officers are being overworked and don't even have the time to eat lunch."

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, in fiscal 2014 there were over 1.37 million agreements between companies and their employees on overtime work and holiday work submitted to government labor oversight organs, a jump of around 180,000 from fiscal 2011. However, the number of labor standards inspection officers around the nation this fiscal year is 3,241, an increase of only 43 from three years earlier.

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