- Title: Head of Japan's largest ad agency resigns over 'death by overwork'
- Date: 29th December 2016
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (SEPTEMBER 23, 2016) (REUTERS) **** WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY **** DENTSU INC SENIOR EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, SHOICHI NAKAMOTO (SECOND LEFT), DENTSU INC SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, TOSHIHIRO YAMAMOTO (CENTRE), AND DENTSU INC DIGITAL PLATFORM MANAGER, NORIHIRO KURETANI (RIGHT), STANDING BEHIND TABLE AS NEWS CONFERENCE BEGINS (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) DENTSU INC SENIOR EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, SHOICHI NAKAMOTO (LEFT), SAYING: "Regarding the transactions of digital advertising in Japan, we deeply apologize for the inconveniences we may have caused to the advertisers and everybody else involved." PHOTOGRAPHERS TAKING PICTURES NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) DENTSU INC SENIOR EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, SHOICHI NAKAMOTO, SAYING: "The number of clients we have taken orders from are 111, and inappropriate operations amounted to about 230 million yen ($2.28 million)." JOURNALIST TAKING NOTES DURING NEWS CONFERENCE TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - APRIL 2016) (REUTERS) WORKERS IN TOKYO SUBURB GETTING ON A TRAIN VARIOUS OF JAPANESE WORKERS ON THE TRAIN WORKERS EXITING THE TRAIN STATION TRAIN ARRIVING AT STATION VARIOUS OF WORKERS CROSSING THE ROAD BUSY STREET AT NIGHT TRAIN STATION AT NIGHT TIME
- Embargoed: 13th January 2017 12:44
- Keywords: Japan Dentsu scandal advertising agency transactions overwork
- Location: TOKYO, JAPAN
- City: TOKYO, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Economic Events
- Reuters ID: LVA0025EXS2H9
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The president of Dentsu Inc, Japan's largest advertising agency, will step down over the "death by overwork" of a young employee, a suicide which has prompted official probes and fresh hand-wringing over Japan's overtime culture.
Matsuri Takahashi, a promising graduate of Japan's top university, leapt to her death in December 2015, leaving behind a trail of grievances over relentless days. She clocked 105 hours of overtime in October 2015, before becoming depressed.
Her death, deemed by the government to be "karoshi" or death by overwork, has prompted raids on Dentsu offices, but has also been followed by Japan's first white paper on the issue.
That study found that in a country that imposes few limits on employers regarding overtime hours and pay, more than a fifth of companies had staff that worked more than 80 hours of overtime in a month - the government threshold.
"It is extremely regrettable that we could not prevent overwork by a new recruit," Dentsu President Tadashi Ishii told a news conference.
"In order to take full responsibility, I would like to resign as president at a board meeting in January."
Ishii said Dentsu and a company employee had been referred to prosecutors by the Japanese labour ministry's Tokyo labour bureau on suspicion of violating labour standards law.
Dentsu said it had not yet decided on a replacement for Ishii.
Ishii's resignation comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing a wide-reaching campaign to reform Japan's employment laws, which could include tighter overtime regulation.
Hard work and sacrifice have long been synonymous with Japan, and strong social expectations make it difficult for employees and unions to aggressively push for reforms.
Workers often feel a debt of gratitude for being hired and are reluctant to quit even if conditions are bad. Others, especially new hires, feel they have to work longer hours than their colleagues to get promoted.
Takahashi's mother, Yukimi, said in a statement released to media by her lawyers on Sunday, that she wanted to "change the consciousness of every working person in Japan." The statement was released on the one-year anniversary of her daughter's death.
In recent years, the government has revised labour laws to encourage shorter working hours, but critics say these steps have relied too much on self-regulation.
Japan officially recognises two types of karoshi: death from cardiovascular illness linked to overwork, and suicide following work-related mental stress.
It's not the first time this year Dentsu Inc has been in the headlines.
In September the advertising agency admitted to overcharging its clients and falsifying the impact of its digital advertisements for more than 100 clients in Japan.
"We deeply apologize for the inconveniences we may have caused to the advertisers and everybody else involved," Dentsu Inc Senior Executive Vice President Shoichi Nakamoto said at an emergency news conference held at the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Dentsu said there were 633 suspicious transactions involving 111 advertisers, adding that the inappropriate operations amounted to about 230 million yen ($2.28 million) so far.
Misconduct included overcharging customers, discrepancies in advertising placement periods as well as failure of placement of adverts, Dentsu said in a statement. The company also made false reporting on performance of the ads.
Dentsu is the world's fifth largest advertising agency globally by revenue.
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