Families fighting for karoshi to be certified as work-related

Akahata of February 12 ran a story about families struggling to have the government certify their loved ones' deaths as karoshi, death from overwork.

In 1991, 34 people who died of brain and heart illnesses were recognized as work-related. But no suicide was recognized as work-related.

At that time, death from overwork was recognized as work-related only when the worker's work load in the week before the worker's death was heavier than usual. In fact, getting a karoshi certified was very difficult.

This situation forced those who lost their sons and husbands on the job to form an association to organize a campaign to help those families overcome difficulties and get the government to improve the standards for certification of deaths as work-related; in 1991 they established a national organization.

In December 2001, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry changed the standards for the recognition of karoshi to take into account work loads during the six months before death, considering the effects of fatigue accumulated over a long period of time.

After the relaxation of criteria, the number of recognized work-related accidents sharply increased to 143 in FY 2002 and to 115 in the six months from April to September of 2003 alone.

Kashiwagi Taeko, 70, a founding member of the Nagoya association, said, "Our common desire is that their deaths should not be for nothing." (end)

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