Reporter’s death after 159 hours overtime prompts broadcaster apology

Reporter’s death after 159 hours overtime prompts broadcaster apology

Ryoichi Ueda, the President of Japanese Broadcaster NHK, apologised on Friday to the family of a 31-year-old reporter who died in 2013 after toiling 159 hours of overtime with only two days off in a month.

From June to July 2013, Miwa Sado covered the Tokyo assembly election and the upper house election for NHK.

She died on July 24, three days after the latter race.

Her death was only made public on Wednesday by the public broadcaster, more than three years after a local labour standards office concluded the death was due to ‘karoshi,’ or overwork-related death.

“Even today, four years after, we cannot accept our daughter’s death as a reality.

“We hope that the sorrow of the bereaved family will never be wasted,’’ Sado’s parents said in a statement released by NHK.

In April 2015, 24-year-old Dentsu employee Matsuri Takahashi killed herself.

Labour standards inspectors in 2016 determined her death was caused by overwork.

Takahashi’s death prompted a national debate on Japan’s severe working conditions and forced Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to address the issue.

The Health and Labour Ministry said in its white paper that 191 cases of karoshi were reported in the fiscal year that ended in March, up slightly from 189 in the previous year.

The report also showed 7.7 per cent of the labour force put in more than 20 hours of overtime a week.

Those who work for 80 or more hours of overtime a month surpass the government’s standard for karoshi.

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