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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 April 4 - 10  > Labor Ministry hides real estate worker’s case of overwork-induced suicide
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2018 April 4 - 10 [POLITICS]

Labor Ministry hides real estate worker’s case of overwork-induced suicide

April 6, 2018
It has come to light that the Labor Ministry hid a Nomura Real Estate worker’s suicide due to overwork. This has given rise to the allegation that the ministry concealed the death because it was an inconvenient fact that may hinder the Abe government’s intent to implement its pro-business “work-style reform”.

Nomura Real Estate had applied the discretionary work system to workers who should be exempted from the system by law. In December 2017, the Tokyo Labor Bureau gave its first-ever “special guidance” to the company. In this rare measure, the labor authority chief directly gave a directive to the president of the company and the content of the direction was made public.

The labor authority’s provision of the “special guidance” was repeatedly cited by the Prime Minister and the Labor Minister in the current Diet session starting in January in a bid to create the impression that the government keeps a strict watch on companies’ use of the discretionary work system. For the Abe government, which at that time when the ministers cited the “special guidance”, was trying to expand the use of the discretionary work system as part of its “work-style reform”, the issuance of the guidance was a useful tactic used to weaken opposition parties’ criticism that the Abe government “work-style reform” will lead to excessively long working hours for more workers.

However, in early March, it was revealed that a male Nomura Real Estate worker who was illegally put under the discretionary work system committed suicide and that his death was recognized as work-related in December 2017. The recognition was decided on the same day when the special guidance given to Nomura was announced. The Labor Ministry at that time did not make the recognition known.

It is highly likely that the Labor Ministry neglected to make the Nomura worker’s suicide public out of concern that if a death involving the illegal use of the discretionary work system became known to the public, the government will be unable to propose a broader use of that labor system.

Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Takahashi Chizuko on April 4 at a House of Representatives Labor Committee meeting criticized the government for advertising the “special guidance” while avoiding mentioning the overwork-related suicide under the discretionary work system. She said that the Abe government has no right to push forward with its “workstyle reform”.

Past related articles:
> Real estate worker committed suicide due to overwork under discretionary work system [March 6, 2018]
> 6-party unification forces PM Abe to give up expansion of discretionary work system
[March 2, 2018]
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