National / Social Issues

Otsu disciplines official for alleged power harassment that led to subordinate's fatal overdose

Kyodo

The city of Otsu in Shiga Prefecture took disciplinary action Wednesday 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 in March 2015.

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 a link has been found between the subordinate’s overdose 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 consulted the city office on possible power harassment on him several days before the overdose, according to the city, which denied such 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.”