The labor ministry said Friday it will not appeal a high court ruling that effectively provided worker compensation to the wife of a Toyota Motor Corp. employee who committed suicide in 1988 as a result of overwork.
“The high court ruled that the death of the Toyota employee should be recognized as a work-related death caused by overwork, after admitting the adequacy of the ministry’s standards for such work-related death,” Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi said. “We would like to accept the court’s decision.”
The Nagoya High Court on July 8 upheld a lower court ruling that repealed a decision by a labor ministry office not to provide worker compensation to the wife of the Toyota employee, saying the suicide was caused by excessive work hours and workload that made the man suffer depression.
The man started suffering from depression around August 1988 when he was in charge of designing cars to be exported to other parts of Asia, and jumped to his death at the end of that month at age 35.
His wife applied to the Toyota Labor Standards Inspection Office for worker compensation in March 1989, but her request was rejected in October 1994. Two additional requests were similarly rejected.
The labor ministry had maintained that the man’s overtime hours were not excessive when compared with those of his colleagues, and claimed the cause of his suicide was not work-related.
The Nagoya District Court ruled that the standards for recognizing work-related death should center on employees who are most vulnerable to stress as a benchmark for making a decision.
When the ministry office appealed to the high court, it argued that the standards should center on “normal” employees.
The high court acknowledged the ministry office’s standards and recognized that the suicide was caused by excessive work hours and workload, which made the man suffer depression.