An outline of the government's efforts to prevent death from overwork — now being prepared by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry — calls for long-term research to track down the causal relationship between work conditions of corporate employees and their health problems, whose outcome is to be utilized in the measures to eradicate ways of work that impair the physical as well as mental health of workers. Collecting and analyzing cases of overwork that resulted in death or suicide should serve as a long-overdue step in the fight to eliminate such tragedies, but much more needs to be done.

The ministry is working on the outline as required by a law enacted last year that made it the government's obligation to promote efforts to prevent death from overwork. Based on a draft submitted by the ministry last month to a panel comprised of experts, representatives of employers and labor unions as well as families of victims, the government plans to compile the outline by this summer.

The probe will cover not only workers in private-sector companies but government employees and self-employed people. The outcome of the research should be shared by all parties concerned, so that staff at municipal governments and businesses can offer relevant advice to prevent health impairment of workers.