• Kyodo

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The Nagoya High Court on Tuesday in effect granted workers’ compensation to the wife of a Toyota Motor Corp. employee who committed suicide in 1988 as a result of overwork.

Presiding Judge Katsusuke Ogawa said the suicide was triggered by excessive hours and workload, causing the man to suffer depression.

It is the first time that a high court has ruled that workers’ compensation should be paid in a job-related suicide, according to a lawyer for the plaintiff.

The high court’s ruling upheld an earlier ruling against a labor ministry office, which had decided not to provide compensation to the woman. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry had appealed the lower court’s decision.

“The husband had accumulated a substantial amount of fatigue due to his heavy workload and working overtime every day,” Ogawa said. “That, coupled with being appointed head of the labor union’s works committee, made him suffer depression.

“In addition, a delay in a project to develop a new car model and an overseas business trip assignment caused his depression to worsen rapidly, and he committed suicide,” the judge said.

The man began suffering depression around August 1988, when he was in charge of designing cars to be exported to other Asian countries. He jumped to his death at the end of that month. He was 35.

His wife applied to the Toyota Labor Standards Inspection Office for workers’ compensation in March 1989. Her request was rejected in October 1994, as were two additional requests.

The labor ministry had maintained that the man’s overtime hours were not excessive compared with his colleagues, and the cause of his suicide was not work-related.