TOKYO Dec 28 The president of Dentsu Inc
, Japan's top advertising agency, said on Wednesday he
would step down in January over what the government has deemed
the "death by overwork" of a 24-year-old employee.
"It is extremely regrettable that we could not prevent
overwork by a new recruit... In order to take full
responsibility, I would like to resign as president at a board
meeting in January," Tadashi Ishii told a news conference.
Ishii said Dentsu and a company employee had been referred
to prosecutors by the Japanese labour ministry's Tokyo labour
bureau on suspicion of violating labour standards law.
It has not been decided who will replace Ishii as president,
a Dentsu spokesman said.
Last December, Matsuri Takahashi committed suicide after
having clocked 105 hours of overtime in October and fallen into
depression the following month. The labour ministry this year
ruled her death "karoshi", literally "death by overwork", and
raided Dentsu offices.
Ishii's resignation comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is
pushing a wide-reaching campaign to reform Japan's employment
laws, which could include tighter overtime regulation for
Article 36 of Japan's labour code leaves overtime pay and
limits to the discretion of employers and typically benign
Hard work and sacrifice have long been synonymous with Japan
and strong social expectations make it difficult for employees
and unions to aggressively push for reforms.
Workers often feel a debt of gratitude for being hired, and
are reluctant to quit even if conditions are bad. Others feel
they have to work longer hours than their colleagues to get
In recent years, the government has revised labour laws to
encourage shorter working hours, but critics say these steps
relied too much on self-regulation.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)