The President of Japanese Broadcaster NHK offered a public apology on Friday to the family of a 31-year-old reporter who died in 2013 after logging 159 hours of overtime with only two days off in a month.
NHK reporter Miwa Sado, 31, who had been covering political news in Tokyo, was found dead in her bed in July 2013, reportedly clutching her mobile phone.
According to reports, a government inquest a year after her death ruled that it was linked to excessive overtime. She had taken two days off in the month before she died.
In a statement by the NHK’s president, Ryoichi Ueda, he apologized to Sado’s family and also pledged to improve work conditions at the broadcast station.
“We are sorry that we lost an excellent reporter and take seriously the fact that her death was recognized as work-related,” President Ryoichi Ueda said, adding that “We will continue to work for reform in cooperation with her parents,” he told reporters.
Labour minister Katsunobu Kato on also urged the public broadcaster to reduce long working hours. “We urge NHK to manage work hours and cut long working hours… so that such incidents will never happen,” Kato told reporters.
The dedicated and vibrant Sato covered Tokyo assembly elections for the broadcaster in June 2013 and an upper-house vote for the national parliament the following month before her painful death.
In another similar event a young woman who logged more than 100 hours of overtime in one month at major advertising agency Dentsu, committed suicide in 2015.
At a Tokyo court hearing on Friday, Dentsu advertising agency was ordered to pay 500,000 yen ($4,430) as a penalty for allowing its employees, including the young woman, to illegally work excessive overtime hours.