Hideki Maekawa was a 48 year old researcher and associate professor at the School of Engineering at Tohoku University when the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 destroyed his laboratory. He was able to recover some of their equipment and worked doubly hard so they would be able to resume their research on state-of-the-art components. A year later, mid-January of 2012, he brought his family and proudly showed off the lab that was reopening soon, only to be told by the university they would be closing it down after two years.
Hideki, all his hard work for nothing, sunk into a depression and just two weeks after touring his wife and 14 year old son around the lab, committed suicide. His widow, Tamako, joined a support group for people whose relatives were victims of karoshi, or death from overworking. They are now calling on Japanese lawmakers to create a law that would help prevent tragedies that they experienced because of the companies’ lack of regards for the mental and emotional health of their employees. After her husband’s death, Tamako filed to have Hideki’s death declared as a work-related incident. The government agreed with her, and in October last year, a court ruled that he was overworked and asked the university to compensate his family.
The organization, which only began three years ago, has gathered around 460,000 signatures to support their call for an anti-overwork law. Some Diet members from nine political parties will set up a non-partisan alliance to spearhead the push for the law, right after the Upper House elections coming up this July. Tamako said that she will be fighting to send her son and her husband’s students into “a society that respects work and allows them to live in a human fashion.”
[ via Mainichi ]
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