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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 August 1 - 14  > Female teacher’s suicide finally recognized as work-related
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2012 August 1 - 14 [LABOR]

Female teacher’s suicide finally recognized as work-related

August 4, 2012
The Tokyo High Court’s judgment which recognized the death of an elementary school teacher as “work-related” has become final. A defendant, the Shizuoka Branch of the Fund for Local Government Employees’ Accident Compensation, gave up lodging an appeal against the decision on August 2.

Kimura Yuriko, then 24, became a public elementary school teacher in Shizuoka’s Iwata City in 2004. Soon after that, she began suffering from the stress associated with trying to cope with disruptive and unruly behavior of children, and was close to emotional breakdown in the classroom. However, the school administrators and other senior teachers took no appropriate measures to support her.

Only two months after she started teaching there, she developed a severe state of depression and in September of that year, she killed herself.

Yuriko’s parents applied to the fund for workers’ compensation. As the fund rejected their claim, the parents brought the case before the Shizuoka District Court in July 2008. However, both the district and high courts decided in favor of the plaintiffs.

The high court’s decision states that the new teacher was seriously distressed by a variety of problematic behavior of children in her classroom. It also criticized the school management for not taking sufficient steps to support her. It concluded that the burden of work was too heavy for the newcomer to carry out, and found a causal relation between her death and work.

Kimura Kazuko, Yuriko’s mother, said, “I feel quite relieved now that we’ve finished with the case. I hope very much that this judgment will help improve the harsh work situation facing many school teachers.”

A lawyer handling the case said, “I request the fund to reconsider its role to promote workers’ welfare and sincerely deal with work-related accidents like this.”
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