• Kyodo News


The family of a worker who committed suicide in 2008 following overwork is suing the state for ¥130 million, claiming the government failed to perform its duty to compel the employer to revise a labor-management agreement that allows employees to work up to 200 hours a month in overtime.

The plaintiffs are demanding that the government and the employer, Yokohama-based Shinko Plantech Co., jointly pay the damages, according to the suit filed Tuesday with the Tokyo District Court.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare recognized last September that the death of the worker, who committed suicide at age 24, was work-related.

Lawyer Hiroshi Kawahito, representing the plaintiffs, said it is the country’s first lawsuit to question the government’s supervisory responsibility for a worker suicide caused by overwork.

The worker, who joined Shinko Plantech in April 2007 and became a manager at the company’s Chiba office about two weeks later, was diagnosed as suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder due to stress stemming from long hours of work. He committed suicide at his home in November 2008.

Under an agreement between Shinko Plantech’s management and labor, the firm’s employees can work up to 200 hours of overtime each month. The labor ministry’s Chiba labor standards inspection office endorsed this agreement.

The man worked between 94 and 218 hours of overtime per month during the five months from March 2008.

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