OSAKA – The parents of a man in the nighttime entertainment industry who died after chugging alcoholic drinks at work in 2012 were granted workers’ benefits Wednesday in the first such court ruling in Japan.
Yuya Tanaka, who worked at a host club, died at age 21 after suffering from acute alcohol poisoning at the establishment where young male staff typically attend to female customers.
His parents were previously refused compensation based on workplace injury claims. But the Osaka District Court overrode the decision made by labor inspectors, ruling that “drinking alcohol was part of the job.”
It was exceedingly difficult for Tanaka to refuse demands from his older coworkers to drink alcohol at the club, presiding Judge Hiroyuki Naito said in handing down the ruling.
His death represents a “realized hazard related to working at a host club,” as drinking is used to increase sales, the judge said.
Tanaka started working at the club in Osaka in April 2012. He chugged shōchū and tequila to liven up the atmosphere among customers during the early hours of Aug. 1 that year. He subsequently passed out drunk.
He was later found frothing at the mouth by a coworker and sent to a hospital, where he died from acute alcohol poisoning.
Tanaka’s parents applied for workers’ compensation in June 2013 at a local labor bureau, but their request was denied in November that year.
However, the club was ordered by the court to pay the parents ¥73 million ($668,000) in February this year after they filed a claim for damages against its operator.
Two former managers were also referred to prosecutors in 2016 on suspicion of causing death by negligence in the conduct of business, but both cases were later dismissed.
The parents are currently considering filing a complaint with the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution.