Toyota apologizes for suicide of employee after overwork, harassment

By Yuri Kageyama

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Japanese people are reputed to be extremely loyal to their companies, often sacrificing their personal well-being and putting in enormous amounts of overtime, while taking pride in being part of a company.

culture of control, culture of fear!

[ not saying Japan has a monopoly on this by any means, but "workaholic japan" is not really the issue, or the reality, in my opinion, just another bit of the mythology ]

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Toyota promised an investigation into the case to prevent a recurrence and apologized for the family's suffering.

For many companies causing the suffering and death of someone is the matter of paying a fine much less than the amount of profit earned from their abuses. So it is repeated. Again and again.

details of the settlement were not disclosed

Enough to placate the grieved, not enough to be punitive and make the company change its practices.

5 ( +14 / -9 )

Know somebody who works at another big car company here and it's the same. Insane work conditions. I don't think other companies are any different or will implement better work life balance. Remember Dentsu?

Toyota paid the widow off. Now it's back to the status quo.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

The problem has been identified and it is great that society and media have been dealing with it in a more open manner, but is is concrete action against abuse at the work place that is crucial.

Will managers be held accountable? Will they be fired to make a clear statement? Publicly shamed? Probably not. I assume they will be reprimanded, expected to make a few bows, forced to take a (of course payed) leave or transferred to a different division with no consequences.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Toyota thinks money can buy SUICIDE....

-2 ( +7 / -9 )


Yeah, that’ll bring back his life.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

I won't expect shareholders to question Toyota management; most shareholders are also primarily interested in profits and care little about how they are got. Some defend not giving workers raises or better working conditions because that keeps the corporation's costs down and the profits higher.

That "constant ridicule from his boss" went on says a lot about the mindset of bosses in some companies. Personally I have never seen ridicule of any sort as an effective way to deal with workers.

While walking on weekends I enjoy watching children playing some sport, but often am upset listening to a coach or some sort of adult berating a child for some reason. Maybe being ridiculed is part of Japanese life, I greatly enjoyed playing sports as a kid and as a young man, in part because I thought it was fun playing games and and I never had bullying coaches. I did have PE (Physical Education) teachers who would sometimes ridicule a kid, usually one who was not very good at physical activities, and like most other kids thought the teacher was a jerk.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

The government received 2,835 complaints of deaths from overwork, or karoshi, in 2020.

The fact that it happens often enough here that they have a word for it should tell people that there is a problem.

In other countries, if they wanted to say "death from overwork", they'd have to say the descriptive words "death from overwork" (in their language, obviously.). Of course, in most developed countries, they would never have to use those words, at all.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )


It very much is Toyota's fault for fostering a company culture that allows its managers to harass their employees and force them to do overtime. I worked for a Toyota group company for 3 years that supplied parts to Toyota and it had the exact same toxic environment. Managers would routinely berate their staff in the middle of the office and call them names in front of their colleagues. I was told to clock out at 5:30pm but was expected to work until 9pm or 10pm. I complained to HR twice and on the third time, after 3 years, I quit and found a new job working for an American company in Tokyo with a much better company culture.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Suicides in Japan is a pandemic lasting for half a century now

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Toyota promised an investigation into the case to prevent a recurrence

Since they didn't say external, I guess it will be a quiet "internal" investigation without any findings published to the public or even the bottom staff...

4 ( +10 / -6 )

The wife told reporters she felt her husband, then 40, would have understood and she believes Toyota has the opportunity to change for the better

Not saying I personally knew the guy, but no he didn't understand because he gave away the most important thing, his life. If a bow from Shacho would have resolved his conflict, maybe we need to see more shachos bowing towards employees whom are being harassed at their work.

I'm sorry but Toyota will not change and we are likely going to continue to see the same horrible management because it is not seen as a crime as it would in other parts of the world.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

we have been reading similar cases in many years.

Old good Japan never changes,only good to apologize a brief bow and back to the same semi slavery working system as usual.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Oh! They apologised! Well that just makes it OK, No!

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Toyota USA has the same culture, at least in departments managed and staffed by Japanese employees. (They couldn't get away with it with American and non-Japanese staff. )

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

This is why I wouldn't fit in working here in Japan.

Very few gajin can. Turning into an issue, since a lit of "suitable" international students graduates who enter Japanese companies, soon quit when they find out Japan Inc. own them, there is little chance of promotion and wages suck.

Due to the nature of Japanse working culture, the labour shorage can't be solved by international labour (unless it's slave labour), unlike in other advanced economies.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Everyone’s a victim of this overworked culture. All the pent up stress bullied into the weak. Cry out for help. Keep your eyes open for those in need.

RIP and RIP Takahashi Matsuri.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Remember the old saying: “ It’s not worth Dying For “ ?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Workaholic Japan.... No

The real problem, which begins at school and continues in the workplace is: Institutionalized bullying, passive-aggressive behavior and hammering hard anyone that dares to mention it.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

366,000 other employees didn't top themselves.

The inability to handle stress and poor life choices (hanging yourself) are not necessarily the fault of the employer. A better choice would have been to quit, ask for a transfer, took time off. Hanging? Not good.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

A better choice would have been to quit, ask for a transfer, took time off. Hanging? Not good.

Japanese people should know that being loyal to a company is just plain stupid. The company won't pay you more if you work more. Unless you're also a shareholder/stockholder, if the company earns more money, it won't be given to you even if you are the reason for it.

They should understand and accept that it's okay to change jobs and to focus on their life and their own growth.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Bullying is taught, it is a way of life in Japan, from the school playgrounds to the board room of every company in Japan a employee is being mentally of physically abused. It will never change until the culture of the people change from the school playgrounds to the board room where people can be themselves rather than conform to the same rules like a robot.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Ijime must stop in Japan. This is the root of jealous and lowly nature and actions of poor quality workers.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Apologize, spout some platitudes, pay money, and then rinse and repeat in the future when it happens again - Japan inc. 101

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Oh… and put up some posters and run a campaign.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Unless the manager responsible is either fired or publicly reduced to the lowest grade available and the results of the investigation and the actions taken to remedy and prevent future cases are published and monitored, everything said by the company is both worthless and meaningless.

Given Japans corporate culture the chances of any of the above happening is smaller than a Higgs Boson!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

One day, a person may think suicide means they are killing the wrong people.

That will make for some bad days in management.

*I do not recommend it, **I am warning the companies.*

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Job mobility is not built in to the Japanese system. Ideally, companies with bad management, pay, benefits, etc would be punished by high turnover and losing talent but that is simply not an issue for the big corporations here where no one is raised to be an expert at anything and companies are full of generalists with no transferable skills. The change has to come from the people as neither the government nor the management of large corporations care about the workers by building a safety net for people who quit their jobs due to power harassment and mobbing, and reporting these managers not to the companies but to the public forum to deal with them. All the pledges from Toyota are to deflect the bad PR they are getting until people forget the news and rinse and repeat when the next suicide happens.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I have been yelled at by my "manager"s before and my response was to always quit. But after a while, this starts to weigh heavily during interviews where you are never justified for criticizing your ex-employer even if they tie you to a post and kick your balls everyday.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The Nagoya High Court ruled in September the employee's death was work-related, noting he suffered severe stress at work before his suicide in 2010

The issue is answered in the report. It has taken 11 years of Japanese dispute legalities to reach this conclusion. Even though Toyota challenged the accusation which would have delayed the correct conclusion, 11 years is ridiculous.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The harassment exists in companies all over the world, but people change jobs and/or quit.

Too hard to do that in Japan.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Crappy brand, crappy company, awful people management skills

Bullying (which is a no-no) set aside, let's remember that Toyota Motor is again the No.1 automaker in the world, claiming the top sales spot in 2021 for the second year in a row. The group sold nearly 10.5 million vehicles worldwide last year, which is up 10.1 percent from 2020.

Hardly a crappy brand or crappy company, I say.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Hardly a crappy brand or crappy company, I say.

Not a crappy brand. That fact is well established.

But, that doesn't preclude it from being a crappy company, at least as far as its employees are concerned.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Tom San, if a corporation has to set aside its bullying culture to achieve no.1 status, then it truly is even more crappy than you try to defend against. Toyota has the resources and the money to eradicate bullying. The no.1/ sales achieved blah, blah defence doesn't rub mate.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Tom San, if a corporation has to set aside its bullying culture to achieve no.1 status, then it truly is even more crappy than you try to defend against. Toyota has the resources and the money to eradicate bullying. The no.1/ sales achieved blah, blah defence doesn't rub mate.

Yeah. Anything you say, boss.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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