National

Dentsu taps Toshihiro Yamamoto as new president in wake of 'karoshi' case

Kyodo

Dentsu Inc. decided Thursday to promote Senior Vice President Toshihiro Yamamoto to president, replacing Tadashi Ishii who will step down to take responsibility for the overwork-related suicide of a young employee.

Under the leadership of 58-year-old Yamamoto, effective Monday, Japan’s top advertising agency faces the task of regaining trust by reforming the work environment that led to the death of 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi in December 2015.

“My mission is to re-establish trust in Dentsu in Japan, and build a sustainable growth path for the long term,” Yamamoto said in a statement, calling reform of the working environment “the top priority.”

“With strong determination, I will steadily implement improvement measures with employees,” he said.

Ishii, 65, announced last month he would resign after the labor ministry referred the company and one of its male executives to prosecutors on suspicion of forcing Takahashi to work and to underreport her illegally long working hours.

Dentsu remains under investigation by labor authorities, which officially recognized Takahashi’s suicide as a case of karoshi (death from overwork).

The company has temporarily cut the pay of five board members due to their failure to prevent her suicide.

Dentsu said Wednesday it has also “harshly” penalized three superiors of Takahashi, but it did not give details on the punishment.

The monthly pay of Dentsu Senior Executive Vice President Shoichi Nakamoto, a senior vice president and three executive officers will be cut by 20 percent for three months starting from January.

Dentsu did not disclose the names of four other executives but said they were all responsible for online advertising and sales operations in which Takahashi was engaged.

The announcement came a day after Dentsu announced pay cuts for 17 executives as punishment for overcharges and other improper practices in its online advertising services over the past few years.

Two of those punished over Takahashi’s suicide were also subject to pay cuts related to the improper online ad operations, meaning their pay will be cut for six months.

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