Dentsu likely to be fined for irresponsible working practices

The company renews a pledge to stamp out long working hours as executives escape charges following the investigation of a suicide in 2015.

Dentsu's Tokyo headquarters
Dentsu's Tokyo headquarters

Following an investigation into the suicide of an employee in 2015, Tokyo prosecutors have formally charged Dentsu with responsibility for the incident.

According to reports, the company is likely to be fined for circumventing labour laws. However, individual managers of the employee will escape prosecution.

In a statement issued to Campaign, Dentsu said:

"We will move forward with an array of initiatives under our plan, including enhancing the working environment, reforming business processes, and cultivating human resources. We will thereby eliminate long working hours and ensure that our operations in Japan fully comply with local labour regulations while endeavoring to foster sustainable growth for our employees and the organisation."

It is not clear at this stage exactly what form those initiatives will take. Changes Dentsu made last year include turning the lights off at 10pm in a bid to ensure employees do not work beyond that time.

Observers in Japan have expressed doubt over the move’s effectiveness and suggested that more rigorous improvements to the working environment are needed.

Overwork remains a pressing topic in Japan. Following the revelation of the incident at Dentsu last year and investigations into working practices at other companies in the sector, there has been much discussion as to potential improvements to the advertsing industry's overall environment, but little concrete evidence of progress.

Here is a timeline of last year's events.

A version of this article was published first by Campaign Asia-Pacific.

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