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Labor standards inspection offices in Tokyo will allow workers’ insurance to cover the deaths of a South Korean student and a Japanese photographer who were killed by a train Jan. 26 while trying to rescue a drunken man who fell onto the tracks at JR Shin-Okubo Station, the Labor Ministry said Tuesday.

The parents of Lee Su Hyon, a 26-year-old South Korean student, and the mother of Shiro Sekine, a 47-year-old photographer from Yokohama, had filed the insurance applications with the Shinjuku and Central Labor Standards Inspection offices to cover the deaths of their sons.

On the night Lee and Sekine were killed, Lee was on his way home to Arakawa Ward from his part-time job at an Internet cafe near the station in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, and Sekine was on his way home to Yokohama’s Midori Ward from his company in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward.

After a Cabinet meeting, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi said at a news conference that the labor standards offices had deemed that the accident occurred while the two were commuting home from work.

The insurance covers all employed workers in Japan, regardless of their nationality or labor status, who die or sustain injuries while working or commuting.

But it is rare for accidents involving rescue activities to be covered by insurance, ministry officials said.

The insurance does not cover accidents that occur when workers stray from their commuting route or during events interrupting the commuting. But the labor offices recognized that these factors did not apply in the cases of Lee and Sekine.

“I think it is the government’s duty to pay the utmost respect to such valorous acts,” Sakaguchi said.

“I am glad that the application for the insurance was approved.”

Payout to cabby’s kin

GIFU (Kyodo) The Gifu Labor Standards Inspection Office has granted workers’ insurance to the family of a taxi driver who was slain in November 1999, it was learned Tuesday.

It is rare for authorities to grant the coverage before an arrest is made in an on-the-job slaying, according to experts.

Harumitsu Ishiguro, 49, was found lying on a road near his taxi with stab wounds to his stomach on Nov. 15, 1999, in Gifu.

He was pronounced dead shortly after he was carried to a hospital, according to police.

Gifu police have been investigating the murder, but no clues have led to an arrest, police sources said.

Ishiguro’s family filed the insurance applications in January 2000 with the local labor standards inspection office to cover his death.

Officials there said workers’ insurance does not cover people who were murdered for personal reasons, such as a grudge.

“But we think Mr. Ishiguro’s case is unlikely due to personal affairs, but likely due to his job,” one of the officials said.

The job of a taxi driver, who usually carries cash and works in a confined environment, is accompanied by certain dangers, the official said.

Workers’ insurance was granted to the family of a high-ranking official of the now-defunct Yamaichi Securities Co. who was stabbed to death on a road in Tokyo’s Ota Ward in August 1997, setting a precedent to allow the insurance for a victim of a crime that has been resolved.

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