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Mitsubishi Electric apologizes for power harassment behind new recruit's suicide

A lawyer representing the bereaved family of a Mitsubishi Electric Corp. employee who took his own life after being subjected to power harassment shows a handwritten note left by the man detailing abusive language from his trainer, in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Aug. 26, 2022. (Mainichi/Takashi Kokaji)

TOKYO -- The family of a Mitsubishi Electric Corp. employee who took his own life after being severely harassed by his boss has reached an out-of-court settlement with the firm, the family's lawyer revealed at an Aug. 26 press conference in Tokyo.

    Under the settlement, the Japanese electronics giant acknowledged that the man's 2019 suicide soon after he entered the company was caused by his boss's power harassment, and apologized. The company promised that it would take measures to prevent a recurrence, such as providing anti-power harassment training.

    Though the manager in the case had been warned previously for being excessively harsh on subordinates, he was the head trainer for junior workers at the time of the 2019 incident.

    According to lawyer Chikara Shimasaki and Mitsubishi Electric, the settlement agreement, dated Aug. 23, acknowledges that the company's appointment of the harasser as head trainer and other duty of care violations led to the young worker's suicide. The family of the victim, who was in his 20s at the time of his death, had waged an out-of-court fight for damages and an apology from the firm.

    The man's family released a statement about the settlement saying, "It's been three years now, but our hearts still break when we think of our son. We hope Mitsubishi Electric will not let our son's death go to waste, and improve to prevent an incident like this from ever happening again. We ask that harassment-free working environments be established across all workplaces."

    Mitsubishi Electric stated, "We offer our deepest apologies to the bereaved family members. It will be a top priority for our management to commit to preventing a recurrence of the labor issue in our workforce." The company added that it had already taken preventive steps in response to this case, including having all its employees submit written oaths not to commit harassment.

    The man killed himself at a park near a company dormitory in Hyogo Prefecture in August 2019, after he was assigned to the firm's Manufacturing Engineering Center in the city of Amagasaki. In a handwritten note left at the scene, the man quoted the head trainer telling him, "I'll kill you if you can't answer the same question next time," among other incidents.

    After the suicide, his family applied for worker's compensation claiming that their son's death was attributable to power harassment. The Amagasaki labor standards office recognized the case as a work-related accident in February 2021.

    (Japanese original by Natsuko Ishida, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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