The president of Dentsu Inc, Japan's largest advertising agency, will step down over the ''death by overwork'' of a young employee. As Sonia Legg reports, the suicide has prompted official probes and fresh hand-wringing over Japan's overtime culture.
Japan's biggest advertising agency has already eaten humble pie this year. In September its top execs admitted overcharging more than 100 of its clients. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) DENTSU INC SENIOR EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, SHOICHI NAKAMOTO (LEFT), SAYING: "We deeply apologize for the inconvenience we may have caused," said Dentsu's Vice President. Now its facing big changes thanks to overwork. Its President Tadashi Ishii will step down next year after a young employee leapt to her death a year ago suffering from depression. She'd clocked 105 hours of overtime in October 2015 and was a victim of "karoshi", a term for death by overwork. Her suicide prompted Japan's first white paper on the issue. The study found there are few limits on employers regarding overtime and pay. system.scripts. And more than a fifth of companies had staff that worked more than the threshold 80 hours extra in a month. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) LAWYER, HIROSHI KAWAHITO, SAYING: "In the US and other countries, it's the company executives and managers who are working too hard and collapsing. On the other hand the regular workers are not suffering. In Japan though it affects everyone." Ishii said Dentsu and a company employee had been referred to prosecutors by the Japanese labour ministry on suspicion of violating labour laws. His resignation comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushes for employment reforms, possibly including tighter overtime rules. That would be a significant change - hard work and sacrifice have long been synonymous with Japanese culture.