Local News

31-year-old Japanese woman worked to death after logging 159 hours of overtime in a month

The problem is so rife in Japan they even have a word for it: Karoshi.

By Kate Wagner
Have a conversation with any Australian and it will quickly descend into a subtle competition about who’s busier. Most of us lead stupidly hectic lives, trying desperately to juggle as many balls as we can, but as a whole, we’re seen to have pretty good work/life balance as a country.
Japan, however, is notorious for its insane work culture that reveres sleeping at the office and never taking a day off.
Miwa Sado knew that culture all well and it ultimately cost her her life.
Miwa Sado
The 31-year-old journalist logged 159 hours of overtime and only took two days off in the month leading up to her death.
Labour inspectors ruled that the young woman’s heart failure was caused by the punishingly long hours expected of some employees in the country.
The problem is so rife in Japan they even have a word for it - karoshi.
The government was forced to launch its first white paper on karoshi last year, and it was revealed that one in five employees are at risk of death from overwork.
Although Sado died in 2013, the circumstances of her death were not made public until this week.
Her parents said: “Even today, four years after, we cannot accept our daughter’s death as a reality.
“We hope that the sorrow of the bereaved family will never be wasted.”
In December 2015, 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi killed herself and left a note for her mum saying: "Why do things have to be so hard?"
Weeks before she died, the young advertising agent took to Twitter to complain of workplace bullying and the working extremely long hours.
Although Sado died in 2013, the circumstances of her death were not made public until this week.
Her parents said: “Even today, four years after, we cannot accept our daughter’s death as a reality.
“We hope that the sorrow of the bereaved family will never be wasted.”
In December 2015, 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi killed herself and left a note for her mum saying: "Why do things have to be so hard?"
Weeks before she died, the young advertising agent took to Twitter to complain of workplace bullying and the working extremely long hours.