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Dentsu chief to resign over employee's suicide, labor law violations

36 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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Ishii "will resign to take responsibility" but "acknowledged the problem has not been fixed". This says it all really. It's flummery.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

But Ishii acknowledged the problem has not been fixed. The company said Wednesday that more than 100 workers were still doing more than 80 hours of overtime a month.

So the resignation is a meaningless gesture as nothing has changed in the workforce.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Meaningless, he resigns as CEO but becomes another title in the company with the same salary. Unless the government fines companies with large punishments nothing will change.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Well, I'm glad he's stepping down to show acknowledgement and responsibility even if it is a symbolic gesture.

Him saying that it's still a problem at his company will hopefully push the company to take further steps to remedy this.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

“This is something that should never have been allowed to happen,” Ishii told reporters of Takahashi’s suicide.

No it shouldn't have but , you only seem to care about the bottom line and not THIS....

But Ishii acknowledged the problem has not been fixed. The company said Wednesday that more than 100 workers were still doing more than 80 hours of overtime a month.

"STILL"......there are what, 168 hours in a week, and your employees are working over 120 hours, leave an average of 6 hours or less per day for commute times, sleep, family, etc etc etc.

You should be shot! (figuratively speaking here)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

... 80 hours of overtime a month.

Yubaru: ... there are what, 168 hours in a week, and your employees are working over 120 hours, leave an average of ...

80 hours of overtime a month is 20 hours of overtime a week, making it 60 hours of work per week, not 120 hours per week. Still, it's a lot, 12 hours a day for a 5 day work week.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Dentsu is one of the highest paying companies to its employees in Japan. They worked crazy hard in return for damaging their health and families. I wonder why the lady did not quit the company before committing a suicide.

-16 ( +0 / -16 )

The wrong person resigned. If workers feel they are being worked too hard, they should be the ones whom should be able to resign. But in Japan workers who quit, whatever the reason, are considered disloyal, and have a difficult time getting another job. And then there is the fact that most large Japanese companies hire new grads, and not older, more experienced people. Even if your company goes bankrupt, and leaves you out of a job, getting another one is difficult, because age discrimination in Japan is even worse than sex discrimination. It is more the backwards business culture in Japan that is the cause of the problem than the businesses themselves.

Another had thing about the business culture here is that even though the president of Dentsu resigned, he will still exercise a fair amount of control over the company. In Japan, former chief executives have as loud a voice in the running of companies as current ones. These retired executives forced the president of Honda to resign a couple of years ago because they were unhappy with how he ran the company.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

80 hours of overtime a month is 20 hours of overtime a week, making it 60 hours of work per week, not 120 hours per week. Still, it's a lot, 12 hours a day for a 5 day work week.

This worries me because I work 12 hours a day. Some companies just don't care about their employee's mental health

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I have had the unfortunate experience of doing subcontractor work for Dentsu (many years ago). The two words that come to mind to describe their corporate culture are "ruthless" and "arrogant." Those are not likely to change in the slightest under a new president.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

80 hours of overtime a month is 20 hours of overtime a week, making it 60 hours of work per week, not 120 hours per week. Still, it's a lot, 12 hours a day for a 5 day work week.

You are correct my mistake there. I was reading an article in another paper that stated that there were over 30 employees that were under-reporting their overtime per month by over 100 hours, so per week they were working over 80 hours and some even more.

Either way, my "calculation" was wrong.

Dentsu is a huge company with nearly 50,000 employees worldwide. It produced the Rio Olympics, the World Cup and countless other major events.

The event planners have a responsibility here now to ensure Dentsu follows the line or does not get the job!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder why the lady did not quit the company before committing a suicide.

Quitting a large company like Dentsu early in her career would have been a black mark on her resume she would have had difficulty in ever recovering from. Basically she'd be restricted to part-time jobs for the rest of her life. With the lack of sleep and rest, she probably wasn't thinking clearly, and with her future prospects either continuing as she was going, or facing a lifetime of difficulty due to becoming pretty much unemployable, she thought there was no future for her and therefore suicide was the only solution.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"Quitting a large company like Dentsu early in her career would have been a black mark on her resume she would have had difficulty in ever recovering from. "

Have spoken about that with J ppl and quite a few think that there are some companies out there that would have understood the reasons behind her resignation and been very happy to hire such talented, hard working young girl ( Plus, I think she graduated from a top uni).

It's J workers themselves who are going to change the society they live in, not the bosses. I know It's not always easy but they have to get their priorities straight. (Actually think more and more young J understand that)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

just shut the whole company off!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You mean he will retire and enjoy the rest of his life on the riches his staff earn for him. How is that taking responsibility? How about forfeit your pension and 50% of your riches and give it to a charity that helps people with mental/physical problems due to overwork.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

You mean he will retire and enjoy the rest of his life on the riches his staff earn for him.

Will he even retire? Is this one of those situations where he is just resigning his post, or is he actually leaving the company?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Takahashi had written. “But why do things have to be so hard?”

Company manner aside, it's pretty clear that many young people are not prepared for for life after school. I teach at a college that is specifically for study abroad preparation and the students have no idea what they are in for overseas. They seem to think it will be all sunshine and lollipops. They are just not mentally and emotionally mature enough to face the rigors of life after school. This puts them in a very vulnerable situation and are easily exploited, as in this case.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No doubt resigning to another comfortable amakudari position. And now Dentsu will consider the issue resolves and continue working people to death.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japanese companies hire young people as apprentices. It is not colleges they get special knowledges or techniques immediately useful. Upon graduation from colleges, they are blank white papers. Company seniors educate them. So, they think it is not strange that newly hired have to put many hours to learn about jobs. They are not working but they are learning jobs while they are getting salaries from the companies. Companies think it will take many years until they can truly contribute to the companies. This is the Japanese systems.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I notice that Miss Takahashi's immediate boss is not named in this story, nor has he (IIRC) been named in any of the previous stories about this tragic incident. That person's manager should also be named. The president of the company may set the overall corporate culture, but it's the middle management who really pour on the stress and the psychological abuse.

They are just not mentally and emotionally mature enough to face the rigors of life after school. This puts them in a very vulnerable situation and are easily exploited, as in this case.

In their defense, very few people are mentally, emotionally, and physically "mature" enough to meet the demands made on them by a typical salaryman boss. Even in the military you get to sleep eight hours a day. Even in the military you can obey the exact wording of the orders given to you and not feel pressure to "read the air" and figure out what your boss wants without it being spelled out for you explicitly. It is this combination of physical deprivation and psychological stress that makes Japanese corporate life so awful.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The company said Wednesday that more than 100 workers were still doing more than 80 hours of overtime a month.

Who would have thought that turning the lights off at 10 p.m. would not do the job?

The company acknowledged Takahashi’s treatment was like harassment because her records showed monthly overtime within company regulations of 70 hours, with numbers like 69.9 hours, when she had actually been working far more hours.

And again regulations that are not enforced. So here we are with more than 100 workers who did more than those 70 hours overtime. Even if the records of one person show an overtime of about 70 hours month after month, you should realize that there is something wrong and look into it.

It's not just a problem at Dentsu though. According to an article at the Japan Times 1 in 4 companies has workers that log over 80 overtime hours a month (I would not be surprised if the real number is higher since those are only the numbers provided by a survey).http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/07/national/social-issues/1-in-4-firms-say-some-workers-log-80-hours-overtime-a-month-white-paper-on-karoshi/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a heart rendering story and my deepest condolences to the young lady's family. What I'm appalled at not reading or even mentioning in this article is the reporters lazyness YOU'RE A PRAT! Did you not bother to mention that this company although saddened by this incident perhaps more so because it actually got bloody reported, was that this company ALSO AT THE SAME TIME COLLETED A HEFTY LIFE INSURANCE PAYOUT!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Working 80 hours overtime is like working two full-time jobs; a near impossibility if you require sleep, have a loved one, or a life beyond the company. Ishii probably has neither of the last two.

A few surveys have found that working more than 50 hours a week does not improve productivity but does result in an increase in mistakes and stress. Dentsu prefers, I guess, mistakes and stress over productivity.

Also, Bloomberg reports that the average American works 38.6 hours a week with no overtime. Some professionals punch in for about 78 hours a week; but they're wokring for themselves, not being harassed by managers.

And those 100 employees who still work more than 80 hours of overtime? Obviously they’ll be severly reprimanded for not following company rules of never, never, never writing down more than 69.9 hours on their timecards.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Quitting a large company like Dentsu early in her career would have been a black mark on her resume she would have had difficulty in ever recovering from. Basically she'd be restricted to part-time jobs for the rest of her life. <

This is not entirely true. Big companies might not want to hire someone if they quit within the first year, but there are loads of chuusho kigyo where it is very possible to be hired full-time. I have spoken to Japanese people who have gone down that path.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"Earlier Wednesday, government authorities filed papers demanding prosecutorial charges against the unidentified Dentsu employee suspected of driving Matsuri Takahashi to suicide from overwork."

Why in the world does this article not also mention that papers were also filed with prosecutors against the company, Dentsu, itself?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

he will resign to take responsibility for the suicide of a worker who had clocked massive overtime in her first months on the job. >>> What?? Change the policy

0 ( +0 / -0 )

THIS is getting too ridiculous, the president resign system MUST CHANGE, WHY ???. I have lived and run companies in Japan FOR 28 years. Do anyone in their correct mind think that a president can know everything ???.. THE DEPT heads should resign and those who did the crime should resign. In Japan, It is always the criminal escaped and the innocent pay for something that is not in their control. IT IS TIME TO CHANGE OLD MANGEMENT and old society mind. Everyone must be taken into account for what they have done so that Japan grows up. This case is, PAPA & MAMA, is responsible, only immature & irresponsible are brought up in this way. TOO OLD SYSTEM IS NO IMPROVEMENT FOR ANY COUNTRY.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This is not entirely true. Big companies might not want to hire someone if they quit within the first year, but there are loads of chuusho kigyo where it is very possible to be hired full-time. I have spoken to Japanese people who have gone down that path.

This young lady would have been a top-pick graduate to land that position with Dentsu and she would have set her heart on Dentsu from a long way back. They are one of the top ad agencies in the world (on a revenue level, not on a humane one) and for a successful student it would have been seen as a failure to resign. And one thing that us westerners do not really appreciate is the complete loyalty Japanese employees have to their corporations and managers. Many of them would literally work themselves to death rather than speak up. This company should be shut down and line management jailed. R.I.P.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Great to hear people's opinions. I think it takes a real man, to take responsibility, for the tragedy, and resign. No excuses, or blame naming. Maybe more more government control, a government body ,needs to be set up to monitor companies with employees who do excessive working hours.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

What Is the official working week in Japan 40...50... 60 hours? I have been trying to work out what or how many hours each person works per day.. it seems ridiculously long. and then they do more hours on top!!! the other point is "never writing down more than 69.9 hours on their timecards." so if you only put down 69.9 hours do you get paid for the other ??? hours that are not on the work card? if they do is this not an form of acceptance on behalf of the company THAT they do even more hours then allowed?, If its deemed the you will work XXX hours for nothing, well its time for home i am afraid, you would not see me there 1 more minute longer than necessary.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I hope that the poor woman's death was not in vain. Workers of all companies should report extreme or excessive working hours and practices to an independent body and companies should be exposed more by media and the customers informed in detail of the practices of the company. The meaningless gesture of resignation and the obscene golden goodbye payout is unacceptable. Unless people join together and hold senior business leaders accountable, nothing will change in corporate Japanese culture. Japan is the only developed country in the world where there is zero accountability of business leaders.

I want to see a culture where good morals and good leadership is praised and recognised. By contrast, people who cheat, commit white collar fraud and do not live up to their responsibility are prosecuted, punished by jail time, stripped of financial assets and forced to apologise directly to the victims of their crimes in a public forum.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

He'll turn up in 6 months time as the president of one of the other Dentsu group of companies, lower position, probably same salary, and will be treated just like he was still the 'big boss'.

SOP Naughty boy Japan 101.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tadashi Ishii is one of Japan's finest corporate executives and probably the greatest President of Dentsu since Hideo Yoshida in the postwar period. He has turned Dentsu, the largest single advertising company in the world, around from being a largely domestic focused organization fifteen years ago into a truly international advertising organization. As Yubaru says, there are now 50,000 employees worldwide. This is a model for other Japanese companies. It is to be hoped that Ishii will conclude his time at Dentsu by instituting the beginning of radical changes in the company's overetime work practices which again will be a model for other Japanese companies. I look forward to Ishii becoming Chairman of the Dentsu Organisation and also hopefully Chairman of Keidanren.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is easy to fix. Almost all these companies use time cards to punch in and out.

Make a data base and an electronic sign in and out system regulated by a third party. When a computer is logged into, as most of these overtime jobs are computer based, even if it is machinery, the info is sent forward. There is no way around faking an early logout.

It can be done.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Amazing the human body can put up with so much abuse. If you work in eikaiwa you will have 2 to 3 hour travels to work spread out over 12 to 13 hours a day for 5 or usually 6 days a week. The company will hold professionalism and quality over your head when all you want is a decent salary, a workable schedule and a social life that includes a weekend of 2 consecutive days. It's no wonder Berlitz Tokyo went on strike this week to protest their new 9.5 hour contracts of availability over a 13 hour spread of time each day. I am not union, but I see why it's happening.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It may be the that the Japanese people don't want to go on strike, But its about time that they grow a back bone and stand up for them selfs, and say were not putting up with this verbal or psychological abuse any more. and were not working over time for free as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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