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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 December 21 - 2017 January 3  > Dentsu accused of violating work hour rules
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2016 December 21 - 2017 January 3 [LABOR]

Dentsu accused of violating work hour rules

December 28 and 29, 2016
The Labor Ministry’s Tokyo Labor Bureau on December 28 filed with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office papers pertaining to a case where Japan’s major advertising agency, Dentsu, forced two workers to work excessively long hours in violation of labor laws. One of them, in 2015, committed suicide due to overwork.

Following the filing, Dentsu President Ishii Tadashi tendered his resignation.

One of the two workers, Takahashi Matsuri, killed herself on December 25, 2015. Nine months later, her death was recognized as work-related. It was acknowledged that Takahashi developed depression before killing herself as she worked 105 hours of overtime a month, exceeding the 70-hour upper limit of overtime set in the labor-management agreement at the company.

Alleging that there are additional labor law violations, the labor bureau plans to carry out further investigations into the corporation.

Dentsu is notorious for its maltreatment of its workers. Back in 1991, a 24-year-old Dentsu worker killed himself after working excessively long hours and the Supreme Court in 2000 acknowledged the company’s responsibility for his suicide. In 2013, another Dentsu worker in his 30s died from overwork. The Chubu office and the Kansai office of the ad agency were instructed to improve their working environments by local labor law enforcement offices in 2010 and 2014 respectively and the Tokyo head office in 2015.

Takahashi’s mother on December 28 issued a comment on the sending of papers to prosecutors. She said, “Dentsu should fulfill its corporate responsibility to eliminate excessively long working hours so that no other workers will lose their life like my daughter.”

* * *

The Labor Ministry on December 27 released data regarding how much unpaid overtime workers retrieved. In fiscal 2015, employers paid to their employees 9.94 billion yen in total as back pay after receiving the ministry’s orders to do so. Since the ministry started to compile the data in 2001, the total amount of overtime pay paid to workers has reached about 240.3 billion yen.
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