Boss resigns after overworked employee commits suicide

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The boss of a big Japanese advertising group has resigned following the suicide of an employee who had worked hundreds of hours of overtime.

Tadashi Ishii said he will step down from Dentsu in January.

Matsuri Takahashi, 24, started working at Dentsu in April 2015 and was soon doing an additional 100 hours a month.

She jumped to her death in December last year and in a note left for her mother, she asked: “Why do things have to be so hard?”

Dentsu has been under pressure to reduce the amount of overtime its employees do and in November it was raided by labour regulators.

In September, the Japanese government ruled that Ms Takahashi’s death had been caused by overwork. She would often return home at 5am after spending all day and night at the office.

On Wednesday, Mr Ishii, who has been chief executive in 2011, said: “This is something that should never have been allowed to happen.”

He will will stay on until the end of March.

While Dentsu is attempting to curtail overwork – by turning off lights at the headquarters at 10pm – it admitted that more than 100 workers were still doing an extra 80 hours a month.

Death linked to exhaustion in Japan is so common that there is a word, “karoshi”, to describe it. According to government figures, about 2,000 people a year kill themselves because of overwork.