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Suicide of Shizuoka city official recognized as due to 'reverse power harassment'

The Shizuoka Municipal Government headquarters is seen in this file photo taken in the city's Aoi Ward on Feb. 21, 2019. (Mainichi/Nobuyuki Shimada)

SHIZUOKA -- The suicide of a municipal government official here has been deemed as the result of "reverse power harassment" from a subordinate, the victim's family said on June 13.

The Shizuoka branch of the Fund for Local Government Employees' Accident Compensation recognized on June 3 the suicide of an official in his 50s in late 2014 as a work-related accident. The same day, the family urged the Shizuoka Municipal Government to improve the working environment for city officials.

According to the bereaved family, the official was transferred to an outside organization affiliated with the municipal government in April 2014, where he supervised six subordinates.

Sometime around October of that year, he began to show symptoms believed to be those of depression and hanged himself at his workplace on Dec. 24.

The victim's bereaved family applied to the fund's Shizuoka branch in May 2015 for recognition of his suicide as a work-related accident, claiming that his death was the result of long work hours and power harassment by one of his subordinates.

According to the decision by the fund's branch, multiple witnesses said that the man had been admonished in a forceful tone by the subordinate over his job instructions, with such phrases as "Enough is enough," and "Don't lie."

After the man's death, a message was found in his notebook reading, "I've been subjected to reverse power harassment by a subordinate. As I'm being verbally abused and reprimanded, I can't feel at ease when I'm at my seat."

The branch also recognized that the man worked up to about 82 hours of monthly overtime.

Judging from these circumstances, the branch concluded that the victim "was repeatedly admonished and verbally abused in a working environment that can be deemed abnormal, and he bore a heavy emotional load that caused him to develop mental illness."

The bereaved family is poised to demand compensation from the municipal government.

(Japanese original by Wakako Otani and Yuriya Ikeda, Shizuoka Bureau)

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