Japanese reporter dies from ‘overwork’ after logging 159 hours of overtime

A labor standards office in Tokyo, Japan,  released details this week about what led to the death of a 31-year-old reporter, revealing that the woman died from overwork.

Miwa Sado, who worked for public broadcasting company NHK, logged 159 hours of overtime and had only taken off two days in the month prior to her death from heart failure in July 2013.  Labor inspectors determined that Sado’s death was caused by karoshi, a Japanese term that means ‘death from overwork.’

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Though the local labor standards office concluded its case in May 2014, the details were not made public until Wednesday, Japan Times reported.

Sado reported on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for NHK, and, between June and July of 2013, she covered the Assembly and House of Councilors election, the Times reported. She died on July 24, three days after the Upper House election. Sado had been with the broadcasting company since 2005.

In a statement, NHK executives revealed they kept track of her working hours through personal statements and time cards but acknowledged there were areas requiring improvement.

Masahiko Yamauchi, senior official at NHK’s news department, said the incident was not a personal matter but a “problem for our organization as a whole, including the labor system and how elections are covered.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration has sought to make improvements to working conditions in the country following the suicide of a new employee at advertising giant Dentsu Inc. in 2015, which some believe was due to excessive working hours.

Yamauchi said NHK waited four years to share the details of Sado’s death due to her family’s wishes. Her family said, in a written statement, they wanted to ensure such an incident never happens again.

“Even today, four years after, we cannot accept our daughter’s death as a reality,” Sado’s parents said in a comment released by NHK. “We hope that the sorrow of the bereaved family will never be wasted.”