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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 October 25 - 31  > NHK should keep its worker’s ‘karoshi’ in mind when reporting on Abe’s labor reform
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2017 October 25 - 31 [SOCIAL ISSUES]
column 

NHK should keep its worker’s ‘karoshi’ in mind when reporting on Abe’s labor reform

October 27, 2017

Akahata 'current' column

A reporter of Japan’s sole public broadcaster NHK, Sado Miwa, died in 2013 after working overtime for more than 159 hours a month. One year later, her death was officially recognized as work-related in response to a claim filed by her parents.

The 31-year-old NHK reporter worked under a system in which employees are deemed to have worked for a certain period of time agreed upon in advance between labor and management. This work system covers workers like news reporters and sales persons who perform their work mostly outside the office. The NHK’s labor-management agreement imposes a maximum of 159 overtime hours per month on workers working under this work structure.

A maximum overtime of 159 hours a month exceeds the government-set “karoshi (death from overwork) line” of 80-100 hours of overtime per month. This situation, however, is not extraordinary under Japan’s labor laws and has led to the loss of a NHK reporter’s life.

NHK on October 4 on its nightly news program reported on its female worker’s “karoshi” briefly. On the other hand, it took up the overwork-induced death of Dentsu worker Takahashi Matsuri on NHK’s major news show, “Close-Up Gendai”, which features timely issues.

Criticizing NHK’s stance toward Sado’s death, her parents held a press conference and said, “We want the broadcaster to sincerely face up to our daughter’s death. We hope that no NHK worker will die from overwork.”

The ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Abe is intending to submit a bill to deregulate working hours dubbed a “zero-overtime payment bill” in order to establish a system allowing for limitless overtime. Regarding the Sado case, NHK said that it takes the case seriously and will do its utmost to prevent a recurrence of such a tragedy. NHK should report the true nature of the bill by keeping its promise in mind.

Past related articles:
> Abe’s work-style reform will increase risk of ‘karoshi’: bereaved families [March 9, 2017]
> Dentsu worker’s suicide recognized as work-related [October 8, 2016]
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