Cases of Overwork Prompts Investigation by Japanese Authorities

January 22, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. prompt / prɒmpt / (v.) – to urge or motivate
Example: The noise prompted him to look outside the window.

2. demise / dɪˈmaɪz / (n.) – death or passing away
Example: Her father’s demise left her in tears.

3. render / ˈrɛn dər / (v.) – to do or perform something
Example: She renders nine hours of work every day.

4. eradicate / ɪˈræd ɪˌkeɪt / (n.) – to destroy something
Example: A group of doctors will help us eradicate this epidemic.

5. utilize /ˈyut lˌaɪz / (v.) – to make use of something
ExampleYou should utilize your resources well so that they will not go to waste.


Read the text below.
A tragic incident involving overwork has prompted authorities to investigate a Japanese advertising giant’s overtime policies.

Investigators from the Tokyo Labor Bureau and the Mita Labor Standard Inspection Office have conducted a raid on Dentsu in relation to the demise of a 24-year-old employee in 2015. Reports said that the employee’s death was due to overwork.

In December, the company’s CEO Tadashi Ishii announced his plan to step down. Ishii said that because he oversees the management of employees, he takes responsibility for the overwork-related issues that Dentsu employees face.

Employees have admitted to working beyond the established overtime limit of 45 hours per month. Some employees said that it is already a common practice and that some even put in over a hundred hours of overtime per month.

The excessive overtime problem, however, does not occur exclusively in Dentsu. In a survey conducted by the Japanese government, about 10.8% of companies revealed that some of their employees work 80 to 100 hours of overtime per month, while 11.9% said that some of their employees put in more than 100 hours.

Furthermore, the results showed that most overworked employees come from the IT industry. More than 40% of IT companies said that some of their workers render more than 80 hours of overtime monthly. Following closely in second place are the academic, research, and engineering industries, followed by the transport and postal services industries.

The survey is part of government efforts to help eradicate karoshi, or death in relation to overwork.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is now considering setting a limit to the number of overtime hours that an employee can do every month. Through this initiative, the government aims to lower the percentage of employees who work more than 60 hours per week.  In addition, the government also plans to convince workers across the country to utilize at least 70% of their paid holidays by the year 2020.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What are the possible effects of doing too much overtime work?
·         How can a person stay healthy even when working overtime?

Discussion B

·         What do you think is the ideal number of overtime hours in a month?
·         How can companies offer help to their employees in terms of overtime work?

January 22, 2017