The president and CEO of a Japanese advertising agency announced Wednesday that he is resigning to take responsibility for the suicide of an employee who worked more than 100 hours of overtime a month, often unpaid.
The employee, Matsuri Takahashi, jumped to her death from company dorm last year. Takahashi had frequently tweeted about being driven to exhaustion by her long hours, during which she often slept only two hours a night.
“They’re making me work Saturdays and Sundays again,” the 24-year-old had written. “I seriously want to end it all.”
“It’s 4 a.m. My body’s trembling,” she tweeted a separate time. “I’m going to die. I’m so tired.”
Still, even her long hours didn’t make her immune from company criticism—supervisors criticized her for coming to work with “messy hair and bloodshot eyes” and not appearing feminine, Takahashi claimed on Twitter.
Investigators ruled her death “karoshi”—which literally means death by overwork. Japan’s Labor Ministry reports that about 100 people die due to karoshi every year in Japan.
“We are taking this seriously,” said Tadashi Ishii, the resigning head of Dentsu, the advertising agency. “I offer my heartfelt apology.”
Since Takahashi’s suicide, the company has required employees to take five days off every six months, and has started turning off its lights at 10 pm.
No charges have yet been filed, though currently it is being treated both as a criminal investigation and a violation of labor laws.
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