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Committee finds non-prosecution of ex-Dentsu exec over employee suicide valid

TOKYO (TR) – The Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution last week validated the decision to not prosecute a former employee of advertising agency Dentsu over the suicide of a subordinate after she logged substantial overtime, reports Fuji News Network (July 27).

On July 27, the committee ruled that the decision by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2017 to not prosecute the former executive over the suicide Matsuri Takahashi, 24, was valid.

“Similarly illegal overtime had been carried out throughout the company, and measures that could be taken by individuals within the company’s organization were limited,” the committee said.

In 2015, Takahashi took her life while employed at Dentsu by jumping to her death from her dormitory. She was later found to have clocked around 100 hours of overtime over several months. The following year, a government labor agency ruled that the suicide of Takahashi was death by overwork, or karoshi.

Matsuri Takahashi
Matsuri Takahashi committed suicide in 2015 while employed at Dentsu (Twitter)

In December of 2016, police referred the case to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office over violations of the Labor Standards Act. However, prosecutors decided that punishment was unwarranted since the actions of the former supervisor, who left the company in 2017, were not intentionally malicious.

Filed an objection

In October of 2017, the Tokyo Summary Court ordered Dentsu to pay a fine of 500,000 yen over illegal overtime by employees, including Takahashi. That same year, Takahashi’s mother, Yukimi, filed an objection with the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution. She described last week’s decision by the committee as “regrettable.”

“Even though the decision is the equivalent of non-prosecution, there is no need on the part of a boss to make subordinates work long hours, tacitly or otherwise,” Yukimi said. “Working long hours deprives people of their of life and well-being.”