• Kyodo

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A court in Hokkaido on Monday ordered an agricultural cooperative to pay ¥100 million in compensation to the relatives of a 33-year-old employee for failing to take measures to prevent him from committing suicide due to overwork in 2005.

In handing down the ruling at the Obihiro branch of Kushiro District Court, presiding Judge Tadahiro Okayama determined the cooperative was not “unable to predict a change in the man’s mental condition or his suicide.”

The cooperative “could have prevented (the suicide) if it had taken appropriate measures, such as restricting his working hours and recommending him to visit a psychiatrist,” Okayama said.

The relatives of the man, who worked for the Hokkaido-based cooperative Otofuke, had sought about ¥140 million in compensation. A lawyer for the family praised the ruling as “sensible.”

An official at the cooperative declined to comment because it had not yet studied the ruling.

According to the ruling, the man’s workload started to increase in June 2004. He was also rebuked by a superior even after he was promoted in April 2005 and suffered symptoms of depression. He committed suicide that May in the cooperative’s storehouse.

The Labor Standards Supervision Office in Obihiro acknowledged in 2006 that the death was work-related.

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