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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 April 3 - 9  > Suicide of worker at JAXA contract company recognized as work-related
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2019 April 3 - 9 TOP3 [LABOR]

Suicide of worker at JAXA contract company recognized as work-related

April 4, 2019

A labor standards inspection office in Ibaraki Prefecture has recognized the suicide of a 31-year-old male worker who was involved in satellite control operations at JAXA’s Tsukuba Space Center as work-related.

This was made public on April 3 at a press conference held by the bereaved family in the Labor Ministry building.

According to his family, Sato Nobuyuki in 2010 began working at Tokyo-based software development company, Software Consultant Corporation (SCC). In October 2015, he was transferred to an SCC group company which receives contracts from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and assigned to control operations for the greenhouse gases observing satellite “Ibuki” at the Tsukuba Space Center in Ibaraki.

The space center uses a 16-hour night-shift to control and monitor Ibuki on a 24/7 basis. Sato worked seven night-shifts a month. Nevertheless, he was ordered by his company to engage in software development at the company office after working at the JAXA center, which led him to work more than 70 hours of overtime every month. However, he was instructed by the company to not keep track of his overtime. On top of that, he experienced power harassment from his superior at the company. In October 2016, he committed suicide at the age of 31.

Lawyer Kawahito Hiroshi who works for Sato’s bereaved family pointed out that working more than 70 hours of overtime a month plus the 16-hour night-shift imposed a heavy strain on Sato. The lawyer added that as a contractee, JAXA should work to prevent a recurrence of such a tragedy.

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