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Suicide of Dentsu employee ruled as “death by overwork”

A Tokyo-based Dentsu employee has resorted to suicide as a result of being forced to log up punishing overtime, according to the findings by the Mita Labor Standard Inspection Office in Tokyo.

The 24-years-old Japanese woman Matsuri Takahashi worked for the advertising agency’s digital account division, which was in charge of online advertising and was recently discovered to have been engaged in deliberate over-billing of its clients.

(Read more: Dentsu CEO admits to 633 suspicious transactions involving 111 clients)

She joined the agency in April 2015 and committed suicide on Christmas Day that same year, following a drastic increase of workload starting from October, Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported.

Takahashi was found to have logged around 105 hours of monthly overtime. The report concluded she suffered a mental breakdown due to the psychological burden of so much overtime work and committed suicide.

The labor office ruled her suicide as “death by overwork” on September 30th.

“We view our employee’s suicide very seriously,” said a Dentsu representative who refrained from making further comment, “as we have yet to grasp the contents (of the inspection office’s judgment).”

Report of Takahashi’s death came after a young male employee of Tokyo-based Dentsu committed suicide in 1991 due to long work hours. After the Supreme Court ruling in 2000, Dentsu said it would strictly monitor the working hours of employees.

Sadly, this phenomenon is far from exclusive to Japan. Across Asia, people are committing suicide to strenuous workloads. Reports say that in China, the death toll due to overworking reaches 1,600 employees every day.

A number of high-profile cases have been seen in Hong Kong as well, such as Poly U’s communications chief, Wilfred Lai Ming-fai, who fell to his death in 2013. In his suicide note, he said that he had no life but work and hoped his suicide would lead to more awareness of the importance of work-life balance.

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