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Mother who lost daughter to overwork suicide releases statement on 3-year anniv.

Matsuri Takahashi, left, and her mother Yukimi are seen in a photo together when they traveled to Thailand in January 2014. (Photo courtesy of Yukimi Takahashi)

TOKYO -- The mother of former advertising giant Dentsu Inc. employee Matsuri Takahashi released a statement through her legal representatives on Dec. 25, the third anniversary of her daughter taking her own life due to stress from overwork.

"Three years have passed since the Christmas day when Matsuri was deprived of all her happiness," her mother, 54-year-old Yukimi Takahashi opens her letter. She writes how she still frequently thinks about her daughter, who died at only 24 years, and how she still calls out her name even now. "The pain of not being able to protect my precious daughter under any circumstances will not fade," reveals Takahashi.

In the letter, Takahashi mentions the package of work-style reform bills that passed into law this June. She urged for legal changes and more efforts to eliminate long working hours and harassments across all positions in every industry, as the legislation is "still far from reform to prevent death and suicide by overwork."

The letter also touched on Takahashi's acceptance as a member of the Council for Promotion of Measures for Karoshi, etc. Prevention this year established by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. She pledged to continue raising her voice "to stop people from suffering in the same way as Matsuri, and to abolish death and suicide by overwork."

The following is an excerpt from Yukimi Takahashi's statement:

Three years have passed since the Christmas day when Matsuri was deprived of all her happiness. For the 24 years up until that day, Matsuri's joy filled my heart with contentment. Everything that I witnessed with Matsuri -- the blue sky, mountains, the ocean and colors of flowers -- all looked so brilliant. Words cannot describe the pain and sadness of being preceded in death by my daughter, more important than my own life, whom I cared and nurtured for even before giving birth.

Dentsu promised to "make an effort to prevent misfortunes from ever happening again" when their employee Ichiro Oshima took his life the same year Matsuri was born. However, Matsuri too became a victim. Once again, Dentsu vowed to reform their working environment. But this requires raising awareness that a business model demanding that employees work day and night and sacrifice their own lives is abnormal and wrong.

Last year, Dentsu was fined 500,000 yen on charges of violating the Labor Standards Act, but my daughter's supervisor was not prosecuted. I filed an objection with a committee for the inquest of prosecution, but the decision to not prosecute her supervisor was upheld in July. I'm not convinced the decision to drop the case was because everyone else is also working unpaid overtime and late nights and violating the Labor Standards Act in other ways.

The package of work-style reform bills that were passed into law this June is scheduled to go into effect in April 2019. The legislation is still far from reforms to prevent death and suicide by overwork. My wish is for legal changes and more efforts to be made toward eliminating long working hours and harassments across all positions in every industry.

(Japanese original by Shunsuke Kamiashi, City News Department)

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