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Restaurant ordered to pay Y58 mil damages over employee's suicide

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A life = 58 million yen? The restaurant got off lightly. A correct guilty ruling nonetheless.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Amazing. At least, justice was given to the "slave. He should have quit his job. It's something not worth dying for.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

There is life after work. You can leave your job if you are being mistreated. They should hammer this into Japanese kids when they are young.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Japan’s culture of long working hours and unpaid overtime is regularly criticized as a leading cause of mental and physical illness among employees.

Seems I hear a lot more people praising the 'samurai spirit' than criticizing.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

When will they learn. The only way the manager at the cafe my wife works at can take a day off is when he checks himself into a hospital. The company knows this but really doesn't care. They always have a manager on backup. My wife has been offer the position and she just laugh at them and of course said no thanks.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Why didn't he just quit?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

There is life after work. You can leave your job if you are being mistreated. They should hammer this into Japanese kids when they are young.

@JoshuYaki

That would obviously be a no-brainer for most people. In this sort of case, though, I would say that it is highly likely that the man had a developmental/cognitive disability that made it very easy for restaurant management to take advantage of him.

As one example, a few years back there was a horrific case of exploitation in Iowa involving a group developmentally-disabled employees who had been working as virtual slaves for a poultry company over 20-plus years (link below). They theoretically could have left, but lacked agency to do so. The company was fined over $1.1 million, but I don't know if criminal prosecution was involved (should have been).

Anyway, Sun Challenge and its management got of lightly. somebody should do jail time for this, and I hope the good people of Tokyo boycott the restaurant. Also, Japanese authorities need to take labor exploitation matters more seriously, particularly when they involve foreign "trainees."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/06/us-turkey-farm-abuse-idUSTRE7357CJ20110406

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Parents were able to take the company to court but not able to advise their son to stop working like that. I know the story doesn't say much about that but it makes you wonder what dads tell their sons here.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

9 hours per day, 5 days per week, 20 - 23 days a month or around 200 hours per month is about the regular time spent working. Getting another 200 hours on top of that would mean it's either 18 hour workdays or around 13 hours if you also work on the weekend, leaving barely any time to sleep and take care of your other needs. Either way it's not any amount a person can endure for a long time.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

He could have quit his job, couldn't he?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Yeah, I also think quitting would have been the answer. Or, maybe just standing up to the boss and telling him to "Get stuffed!" Yeah, I know this power harassment and bullying happens very often in the workplace in Japan, but they should stand up for themselves and seeking legal advice, which is free, long before they work themselves into an early grave.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

These "isshoukenmei gambaru", "isshoukenmei hataraku", "ganbaru" is killing japanese workers.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I know the story doesn't say much about that but it makes you wonder what dads tell their sons here.

They tell them that work defines a man. They company that 'gives' you money deserves 100% loyalty. They tell them to 'endure' and to 'toughen up'

People who I know who are overworked just shrug and say 'shoganai'

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Company should take responsibility. He could have quit, but was possibly scared to quit and forced by his employers. And mentally he was unstable and unable to make a rational desicion.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Rest in Peace. Im hoping this sets a precedent now whereby many, many Japanese companies - big and small - are threatened with lawsuits unless they stop enforcing overtime for workers. I have never heard of this dreadful "Sun Challenge" joint, but am hoping it has permanently shut down.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is life after work. You can leave your job if you are being mistreated. They should hammer this into Japanese kids when they are young.

I agree, if he got the job then he should be marketable enough to get another job. To be a manager at 24 meant that at least he could do the work, so he should have had a bit more confidence in himself and applied elsewhere.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The company will probably appeal....and try to reduce the payment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In Japan, if you quit then you'll find it harder to get hired again. They don't want to hire people who quit. It's a sick system, one that needs to die. People are working themselves to death for little to nothing.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"The term “karoshi”, which means “death by overwork”, entered the lexicon a few years ago amid a surge in the number of people dying because of stress-related problems, or taking their own lives."

What????? I have been hearing the term in use on the news and in general conversation since I think the late 80s or early 90s. Don't remember exactly but a few decades would be more accurate than a few years.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

monetary compensation for damages in civil suits is very limited in japan unfortunately the judge ruled within the confines of applicable law. it should have been much more., agreed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes,in the times past it's true that Japanese companies were reluctant to hire workers who had quit their jobs. However today, although I may be speaking for the minority, changes are taking place and realizing that workers quitting or transferring may have been subjected to poor or illegal management. As an employer I am willing to give them the benefit of any doubts. Also I have always admired young and middle age workers who had the spunk and guts of quitting when under a rotten management. And Japan certainly nowadays has plenty of "black" companies.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Sensato

That would obviously be a no-brainer for most people. In this sort of case, though, I would say that it is highly likely that the man had a developmental/cognitive disability that made it very easy for restaurant management to take advantage of him.

Managers are mistreated everywhere in Japan. They are forced to work overtime with no overtime pay.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

if he got the job then he should be marketable enough to get another job. To be a manager at 24 meant that at least he could do the work

It's like being a manager at McDonalds though - you're only qualified to become a manager at Burger King or some other fast food. At best, a lateral move, not upwards. Maybe this guy thought that even if he quit, he'd just end up in the same position in some other company. Same slave, different master.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Did everyone miss this line?

He had also been subjected to physical violence and verbal attacks by his supervisor.

The supervisor who physically assaulted him deserves to be in prison.

This is not simply a case of death by overwork, but also Japan's ever-present bullying.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

From the Sun Challenge website, here's a graphical representation of the company's philosophy and buzzwords: "Original," "Happiness" and "Voice."

http://www.kuishinbo.jp/kodawari/index.html

Ironic, considering the manager was denied both "happiness" and a "voice" in his job.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I suspect that this man was given a low level "managerial" position so that the company could make him a salaried employee with no overtime compensation — one of the numerous common schemes used by these sorts of companies to skirt labor regulations.

Another scheme I have seen: back in my teaching days we were technically required to stamp an attendance record (shukinbo, 出勤簿) on the days we worked. That record would then be reviewed several times a year by the prefectural board of education and/or the labor office. Also, many teachers would work a majority of the weekend/holidays, sports team coaches/assistants in particular.

I soon noticed, though, that other teachers, otherwise sticklers for following rules, were not stamping many of their weekend/national holiday work days. They had been 'encouraged' not to so that the school would not be in violation of labor standards.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The lawyer sounds like he is really happy with this ruling. While it may be unprecedented, Japan needs to aim higher. The guy should have received at least $58 mil by suing when still alive. Considering they caused his death the penalty should be much much higher.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They had been 'encouraged' not to so that the school would not be in violation of labor standards.

A similar thing happened at a large US company I worked too. They 'encouraged' to consume paid day-offs without taking day-off, which means you have to come to work under day-off.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A good win for a very sad story, I imagine the guy was under so much stress he simply wasn't able mentally to figure a way out, simply quit, I don't think anyone should blame him, only sympathize & hope others( & there are millions like him here!) LEARN that one can simply, quit, leave rather than take their lives.

Its utterly pathetic that J-authorities utter fail at apply labour laws in this country & fine companies who run afoul of the laws!

Y58,000,000 seems large but its actually pitifully small, if the guy worked to 65 this would average to about Y1,400,000/yr poverty wages....................clearly the amount should be about 4times larger at least to reflect wages & some punitive charges on top of that!

Sadly this is just a small cost of business, something to appeal & write off.

Japan still has a long way to go with regards to labour issues, would be nice to see progress, but THIS CASE ISNT IT! its only best of the worst!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Only Fine and no Punishment . I think this is not a judgment. There are much more bigger organizations doing the same thing to their employees and escape by just paying fines. When we say Japan is an Advanced country I don't understand what it means.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Guys, quitting the job seems like an obviously better option than 'quitting life' itself, but this is Japan, where quitting often does not seem like an option -- and he was 24 so maybe he felt like this was his only option (the job, I mean, not necessarily ending his life) and had no other prospects. In any case, the people saying merely that he should have quit are missing part of the point -- this practice will not end, or even be tapered, without this kind of punishment and THEN some. It should have been hundreds of millions in yen, and the two who were found guilty of physical and verbal harassment should be imprisoned since it contributed to the man's death. Granted 200 hours of OVERTIME is an extreme example, but I find it worse that extremes like suicide 'need' to be taken to show that far too many establishments here refuse to abide by the laws and otherwise go unpunished.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

He had also been subjected to verbal attacks by his supervisor.

Overwhelming majority of Japanese think that it's ok. It's soooo common in Jp companies....... really shitty treatment. And they are agree!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sure he could have left his job, but that is not the point here and it would not change anything. And why on earth should he have left his job? This employer should be banned from operating a restaurant for live. It will set an example that this sort of pathetic work ethics are not to be tolerated.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If he'd been mentally able to quit I'm sure he would have...it's not like the U.S., here it is harder to get hired again after you quit, it's just common thinking that even if you hate your job you stick with it because that's a real man, a shakaijin. Men especially seem to have a lot of pride and will stay in horrible situations because quitters are losers in this business culture. The older workers berate younger ones for being weak if they voice dissatisfaction.

Also verbal abuse is considered par for the course as they all went through it as kids especially from sports coaches. There are too many managers who have no clue how to manage people or develop their potential so they resort to bullying. Some of it is even done for show just make young employees "stronger".

Japanese young people should be taught companies are not about family, loyalty, smiles, world peace, employee welfare or any of that tatemae. They are first and foremost about profit and getting the most with least cost. With that in mind maybe they can have more objectivity about their jobs and "fire their boss" by quitting if they need to. Then maybe the system will see some changes.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Last year when I was hospitalised, across the hall were three single rooms. Men checked in, slept all night and left in the morning. I asked them what their illness was. They were all tired and in need of rest due to over work. Brilliant.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

He could have quit his job, couldn't he?

And work where? This is the work culture in Japan. The only way avoid it is to work on a US somewhere.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

One of the down sides of keeping your mouth shut in Japan is getting taken for granted. These overworked/bullied individuals need to consult with the Labour Standards office. Working like this guy did is against the law. No overtime pay is also against the law. If people don`t get off their rearends and fight back they are the authors of their own misfortune.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ya suuuure,the restaurant made him kill himself,not his crappy life,life long torment since birth,bad parenting,ya it was the restaurant.Pitiful,borders on USA style sue sue sue,no personal responsibility,blame somebody else.Well in that case every Japanese overworked businessman should sue for billions...

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

200 hours over time in a month, thats about 7 hours a day over time!! way to much, Here in the UK there is a big Japanese car manufacture (iam not saying which one) but when they first started operating they told the work force the two hours over time was compulsory and they wasn't being paid, most of the staff walk of the job after the 8 hours. and left them in the poo, the Japanese management could not understand why the Brits did this, now they pay them the over time. Is this one of the reasons Japan is so insular? this mind set of crapping on the work force would not be taken lightly from work force from out side Japan

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As mentioned above, the main reason he held a "Tencho" manager position was for the company to be able to make him work overtime, because with the labor laws nowadays, only the manager and the chef are allowed to. I bet most if not all of the other workers were part-timers, and the manager had to fill the gaps or was being told by his supervisor to cut back on staff-cost because the sales where slow. But still, quitting isn't that hard to do, because no one checks the resume for accuracy anyway, so he just could have make up a story at the next job interview. Its probably more so that he was told he would have to find a new manager to take over for him before leaving.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What????? I have been hearing the term in use on the news and in general conversation since I think the late 80s or early 90s. Don't remember exactly but a few decades would be more accurate than a few years.

The word might have been used form the 80s or 90s, but sometimes it takes a while to be recognized by the lexicon, in Latin America, there are new words used everyday in different countries and sometimes it would pass a decade before these common words entered into the Royal Spanish Academy Dictionary.

I feel outraged because the fine was too little, and to know that there are countless of other companies that do the same thing to its employees. As for those who say "He just have to quit", it is not that easy, I learned that in Japanese society a "quitter" is perceived as a weak person, someone that it is not able to handle that kind of job, etc. At 24, you are not mature enough to trust yourself and your guts, and maybe his personality was mellow (a pond for abusive supervisors and employers), so I understand that he might have been scared to look for another job.

R.I.P. and my sympathies to his family, this guy barely had a life, dying that young.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@JoiceRojo Of course it takes some time for words to be included in the dictionary. But one of the definitions of lexicon is: all the words and phrases used in a particular language or subject; all the words and phrases used and known by a particular person or group of people. And the wording of the last paragraph of the article indicates that is the meaning intended, rather than "dictionary."

In any case karoshi has even been included in English dictionaries for more than a decade, so I stand by my comment.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Checking the link that Mu Staff provided, it is not surprising to see that this is one of those "Almost too cheap to believe" places. There's always a reason for cheap food and it would do good to remember that when you enter one of those many crapola joints. Japan sure has a way to go...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Getting promoted to assistant manager or manager of a chain store is usually quite a shock to the "lucky" employee. This is true in any country and not just Japan. After being used to getting hourly pay for the hours they worked, "management" is salaried and expected to pitch-in at anytime regardless of how many hours they already have put in for the week. Overtime pay? You get an annual salary now, bub! Overtime pay no longer exists!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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