A 35-year-old employee handling compensation claims relating to the Fukushima nuclear disaster for Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has filed an application with the Tokyo Central Labor Standards Inspection Office seeking workers' compensation for depression.
Tadafumi Ichii filed the application on Oct. 31, arguing that he started suffering from depression as a result of being forced to work long hours illegally. According to his application and other information, in September 2011 -- six months after the outbreak of the nuclear crisis -- Ichii transferred to a division tasked with handling complaints from businesses that were not satisfied with the amounts of compensation they were offered for declining sales. In February 2013, he took over the role of giving advice to about 450 TEPCO employees on whether or not to pay damages.
The man clocked 89 hours overtime in March 2013, but he stated, "My overtime working hours, if combined with unpaid overtime and take-home work, stood at 169 hours (in March)." On the morning of June 20, 2013, he could not get out of bed, and failed to show up for work that day. He then transferred to TEPCO's branch office in Tachikawa, western Tokyo, on July 1, 2013. He frequently started being absent from the office or leaving early, suffering symptoms such as vomiting in the office's toilet. He was diagnosed on Sept. 3, 2013, as having tendency toward depression and he took a leave of absence from the following day. He was officially diagnosed with depression in April 2014.
The man received a notice from TEPCO in October this year stating that he would be dismissed on Nov. 5 when his recuperation period was due to expire. TEPCO demanded that Ichii submit documents including a doctor's medical certificate, if he intended to return to work. Ichii says he still suffers symptoms such as insomnia. His doctor, therefore, has judged that he requires further medical treatment, he says.
"I worked hard until I was worn out," Ichii said at a news conference.
An official with the public relations department at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. commented, "We understand that the labor standards inspection office concerned decides on individual claims for workers' compensation. We decline to answer questions regarding individual cases."
According to TEPCO, work to pay compensation to local residents whose livelihoods were lost and companies whose sales dropped due to the nuclear accident started in April 2011 and is ongoing.
As of Oct. 28, there were about 2,691,000 applications and about 6.479 trillion yen had been paid for a total of about 2,515,000 applications that TEPCO had finished screening.