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Dentsu aims to reduce working hours by 20% by fiscal 2019

Dentsu Inc. President and CEO Toshihiro Yamamoto, right, and Working Environment Reform Office Managing Director Jun Shibata are seen at a press conference in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, on July 27. 2017. (Mainichi)

Advertising giant Dentsu Inc. announced on July 27 that it will reduce employee working hours by 20 percent, in response to the overwork-induced suicide of one of its workers in December 2015.

The planned reduction in working hours is part of Dentsu's new "Working Environment Reform Plan," which was revealed at a press conference on the same day.

During the press conference, the firm's president and CEO, Toshihiro Yamamoto, referred to the Tokyo Summary Court's decision to put Dentsu on formal trial regarding employee Matsuri Takahashi's illegal overtime, which led to her death, stating, "It is very serious that Dentsu, as a company, has been indicted. As the firm's president and CEO, I want to go on trial myself."

According to Dentsu, in the past few years, fiscal 2014 saw the highest number of total hours worked per person within the company, at 2,252 hours. As a countermeasure, the firm is looking to gradually reduce this figure, and aims to get average working hours per employee down to 1,800 a year by fiscal 2019 -- representing a reduction of 20 percent. In addition, Dentsu is hoping to introduce robots to help out with certain tasks. Furthermore, the company also plans to set up 18 satellite offices other than its head and branch offices, in order to reduce the burden of commuting.

In response to the company's announcement, Takahashi's mother Yukimi said, "I want all Dentsu employees to show strong resolve, and adjust to these new conditions, in order to improve the situation within the company."

Takahashi was 24 years old when she took her own life in 2015.

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