A legal-aid group on Saturday received 206 consultation calls over suicide and death from overwork after launching a hotline to deal with the problem the same day, the group said.
“Behind most reported suicides due to overwork and stress in the workplace lie restructuring-related dismissals, personnel reshuffles and overwork. The situation continues to be serious,” said Hiroshi Kawahito, an official with the group. Most of the calls the group received were related to corporate restructuring.
Death from work-related stress or overwork, known as “karoshi,” is a growing problem in Japan. Of the 206 calls reported to the group’s 33 consultation bases in 31 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, 89 were consultations over workers’ accident compensation insurance. Thirty-five of the 89 were related to suicides, according to the group, a national coordinating conference of defense lawyers for death from overwork.
In 81 cases, callers expressed fears that they could be forced to work to death.
In one case, a manufacturing employee in his 50s was reported to have committed suicide on the day he was asked to retire after more than 20 years with his company, the group said.
In another case, a manufacturing executive, also in his 50s, was reported to have died of subarachnoid bleeding after he was forced to work long hours day after day to take responsibility for the abolition of a company department.
Corporate bankruptcies increased for the seventh straight month in May and the unemployment rate remained close to a postwar record high, despite improvements in some economic data.