National

Otsu city manager disciplined over 'harassed' worker's death

Kyodo

The city of Otsu in Shiga Prefecture has taken disciplinary action against a 53-year-old male manager for harassing a male subordinate in his 40s who subsequently overdosed on tranquilizer pills and died three days later.

The city cut the pay of the official, who works in the corporate affairs division, by 10 percent for five months, on grounds he engaged in “power harassment.”

The Otsu Municipal Government said Wednesday that a link had been established between the subordinate’s overdose in March 2015 and the harassment, but stopped short of saying the subordinate committed suicide, noting the amount of pills he took was not deadly and no suicide note was found.

The victim’s wife had contacted the city office with concerns over the harassment several days before the overdose, according to the city, which denied the allegations at the time.

The subordinate was hospitalized after taking the pills at home, and died of acute heart failure three days later.

According to city officials, the 53-year-old manager repeatedly harassed the subordinate between April 2014 and March 2015, saying in a loud voice and in an accusatory tone that could be heard by others in the office, “Why can’t you do this?” “You can’t understand something as simple as this?” Such harassment continued two or three times a week, the city said.

Three bosses of the male manager have also been slapped with reprimands and warnings over the incident.

“People around them knew of what was going on, but nobody could stop it,” said Kazunari Uchida, head of the personnel department at the Otsu government. “We will strive to create an environment where people being harassed can easily complain.”