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Osaka court recognizes suicide of manager of noodle shop as death from overwork

In 2006, the manager of a shop in the Kogaraya chain committed suicide due to overwork, an Osaka court has ruled

OSAKA (TR) – The Osaka District Court last week recognized a suicide of a manager of a noodle shop more than one decade ago as due to overwork in ordering the company to pay compensation to the victim’s family, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Mar. 1).

On March 1, the court ordered chain Kogaraya to pay compensation of 69.6 million yen to the family of the manager, who was 34 years old at the time of his death. The family had sought 80 million yen in filing the suit.

According to the ruling, the manager worked 82 straight days without taking a day off between May and July of 2005. Over that period, the employee logged an average of 100 hours of overtime each month.

In September of that year, the employee began to suffer from depression. That December, her retired from his post on a temporary basis. He committed suicide five months later.

“Suicide came as a result of a strong work-derived psychological burden that caused depression,” the said the judge, who added that the company, the president and members of the board neglected their obligation of properly managing working hours of the employees.

Company denied wrongdoing

Since the victim was a full-time employee, his exact working hours were not known. However, through interviews with part-time employees and an examination of their working records, the his working hours were determined, according to the ruling.

During the trial, the company denied wrongdoing, saying that the victim took took one day off per week, according to the Asahi Shimbun (Mar. 1). Co-workers of employees made the same claim to a labor bureau during interviews. However, the court felt it was likely that they were not telling the truth.

Kogaraya, which specializes in udon noodle dishes, operates multiple outlets in Osaka. In May of 2005, the victim joined the company as a cook. Three years later, he assumed the shop manager role.

The ruling came the same week that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the abandonment of implementing a package of labor law reforms that seek to boost productivity. Among them is a reform to cap overtime at 100 hours per month in hopes of ending karoshi, or death from overwork. The push was ended after it was learned that data supporting the reforms was flawed.