Official recognition of death and disease from overwork hits record high

The number of government recognition of deaths from brain or heart damages caused by excessive workload as work-related was 143 between Apr. 2001-Mar. 2002, the largest ever, or up 70 percent from the previous year, according to the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Labor report.

Of the total, 96 cases were cerebral disorders and 47 were cardiac failures, with 58 death included. By occupation, taxi and truck drivers topped 30, followed by managerial workers, professional specialty workers (doctors, teachers, and IT workers), technical workers, and clerical workers. By age, workers in their 50s headed the list with the 40s and 30s following.

The number of suicides after suffering from psychotic depression and mental disorders from overwork has more than doubled to 70. Of the figure, suicides and attempted suicides were 31. Specialty and managerial workers stood out in the figure, and young workers in their 20s and 30s accounted for more than 60 percent of the list.

Kawahito Hiroshi of a lawyers' group working on deaths from overwork evaluated that making the standard of recognition less rigid contributed to the number-increase in officially designated death or disease from overwork. But a considerable number of cases failed to be on the list because the government judged that their death or diseases were not caused by overwork, he pointed out. Noting that to get an official recognition takes a long time (one year is usual), he emphasized the need of a prompt procedure. (end)