• Kyodo

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Labor authorities have conducted inspections at four subsidiaries of advertising giant Dentsu Inc. following the overwork-related suicide of a 24-year-old female employee last December, the labor ministry said Tuesday.

It is rare to raid subsidiaries in addition to a parent company over labor practices.

The authorities will check labor-management conditions and possibly issue recommendations for improvement or, if serious labor law violations are found, pass evidence to prosecutors.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is inspecting five Dentsu subsidiaries in all.

Labor minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki pointed out during a news conference Tuesday that the woman’s death followed a suicide by another Dentsu employee in the past due to overwork.

“This is an extremely regrettable case. We want to thoroughly investigate the facts,” he said.

The Dentsu subsidiaries subject to the probe are Dentsu East Japan Inc. in Tokyo, Dentsu West Japan Inc. in Osaka, Dentsu Kyushu Inc. in Fukuoka, Dentsu Hokkaido Inc. in Sapporo and Dentsu Okinawa Inc. in Naha.

Dentsu Inc.’s headquarters in Tokyo along with its three branches have already been inspected.

Matsuri Takahashi, 24, who joined Dentsu in April 2015, killed herself in Tokyo on Dec. 25.

Last month a labor standards inspection office in Tokyo determined that her death was related to work as her overtime hours increased significantly last October.

The labor office also recognized that Takahashi began suffering from depression by early November after having worked 105 extra hours in October, a dramatic increase from 40 hours the previous month.

Dentsu officials said the company is in talks with its labor union about reducing the maximum overtime hours to 65 a month from the current 70.

In 1991, a 24-year-old Dentsu employee committed suicide and his death was recognized by labor authorities and in court as having resulted from overwork.

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