National / Social Issues

Parents of NHK reporter who died from overwork call on network to take action

Kyodo

The parents of a 31-year-old NHK reporter who died in 2013 due to overwork have criticized the broadcaster for taking so long to acknowledge what happened and urged action to avoid a recurrence.

The death of Miwa Sado was made public only on Oct. 4 by NHK, more than three years after labor standards inspectors determined it was a case of karōshi (death from overwork).

“We have been thinking that NHK has not properly taken responsibility for Miwa’s karōshi,” her father said at a news conference Friday in Tokyo.

Sado died from congestive heart failure at her home in Tokyo in July 2013 after clocking 159 hours of overtime over the prior month with just two days off.

Assigned to cover the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Sado had been reporting on the metropolitan assembly election as well as the Upper House poll from June to July that year.

She died on July 24, three days after the Upper House vote.

Her family called for NHK to make her death known at the network. Her mother learned this year that NHK reporters and photographers were unaware of the details of the death.

“I want (NHK) to imagine how we (felt while we) were watching their news reports when it cannot even straighten itself out,” the father said.

The government has been seeking to improve labor practices in the wake of the 2015 suicide of a 24-year-old worker at major advertising agency Dentsu Inc. due to excessive working hours. That case triggered intense media coverage after it came to light last year.

“If the management had intended to properly supervise the working hours of their employees, Miwa would not have died,” her father said.

“Our daughter was our irreplaceable treasure and what we lived for,” her mother said. “We sincerely hope no one will ever have to suffer the pain our daughter experienced.”

Her mother suffered a mental disorder after blaming herself for failing to prevent the death.

“It’s busy and stressful and I think at least once a day that I want to quit this job, but I must hang on,” Sado wrote in an email to her mother on her 31st birthday in June 2013, about a month before her death.