A record high 330 people became eligible for labor compensation due to mental and heart diseases caused by excessive work in fiscal 2005, marking a rise of 36 cases, or 12.2 percent, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Wednesday.

Of the total, 157 died from overwork, while 127 received compensation due to mental disorders caused by work stress, the ministry said.

Ministry officials said workers in their 40s to 50s have been increasingly suffering mental and coronary illnesses while in the prime of life as they carry heavy workloads.

An increasing workload and longer hours due to corporate restructuring are apparently behind the increase.

The number of applications for labor compensation due to mental and heart ailments totaled an all-time high of 869 during the reporting year, and the number of applications due to mental disorders came to 656, also a record high.

Among the 330 for whom labor compensation was paid out due to brain and heart illnesses, those in their 40s rose by 17 to 95 from fiscal 2004 and people in their 50s surged by 22 to 143.

The largest number, 119, were found to have worked an extra 80 to 100 hours per month during several months prior to falling ill and 29 worked an extra 160 hours or more.

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