HomeThe Column

The Column

Some Japanese Pharmaceutical Workers May Slowly Be Working Themselves to Death

Philip Carrigan

On Christmas Day 2015, 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi, a graduate of the University of Tokyo and employee of advertising giant Dentsu, tragically leapt to her death from a company dormitory in Tokyo. The cause of death was “karoshi” or death from overwork. She had clocked 105 overtime hours in October 2015. When I asked a marketing manager from a leading Japanese pharmaceutical company her thoughts, she replied, “The Dentsu news was very shocking not because of the overtime or suicide, but because the authorities finally decided to do something about it.” The tragedy of Ms. Takahashi’s death led to the nation’s first White Paper on karoshi, endorsed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet in October 2016 ...