Death from overwork suit filed

The bereaved family of a 31-year-old Chinese intern whose death in 2008 was recognized as resulting from overwork has filed a lawsuit against his employer and an agency that supplies foreign trainees to companies in Ibaraki Prefecture.

The lawsuit, filed Friday with the Mito District Court, seeks 57.5 million yen in damages in the death of Jiang Xiaodong. It is the first civil suit to be filed in which a foreign intern or trainee has allegedly died from overwork.

Last November, the Kashima Labor Bureau recognized that Jiang had died from overwork as his overtime exceeded 150 hours a month.

The plaintiffs claimed that long hours of work imposed by the company resulted in Jiang’s death.

Intermediary bodies blamed

[Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union lawyer] Shoichi Ibusuki, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said: “There are many cases in which overwork is suspected to be the cause of death. Some agencies that are supposed to oversee the working environment at companies [hiring foreign interns] have even encouraged firms to make [interns] work excessively. We want to this practice to end.”

Jiang, who hailed from an impoverished farming village, was no exception. He came to Japan in 2005 in the hope of earning enough to provide his daughter with a good education.

Jiang’s wife, 34, who visited Fuji Denka’s factory and dormitory Thursday, said: “It’s hard to believe [my husband] worked under such poor conditions for 2-1/2 years. I want the program reviewed so interns can be protected.”