Dentsu to face trial in 'karoshi' case: reports

The company is set to face a formal open trial for its role in an employee's death.

Dentsu's Tokyo headquarters
Dentsu's Tokyo headquarters

Dentsu is reportedly to face an open trial for labour practice violations in a new twist in a saga around the suicide of an employee that began last year.

Tokyo prosecutors will seek to highlight the role Dentsu’s working practices played in the employee’s death after the court deemed the summary indictment proposed on 5 July inadequate, according to reports.

Dentsu was initially expected to pay a fine as punishment for the circumstances that led to the incident, which happened in December 2015. Local reports have suggested that prosecutors intend to make an example of Dentsu in order to deter other companies from allowing karoshi (death from overwork) to happen.

It is not clear what will happen to the individual managers of the deceased employee, who would have escaped prosecution under the summary order.

In a statement issued to Campaign following the initial ruling, 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."

A spokesperson for Dentsu indicated earlier this week that the initiatives have had a positive effect and said the company would provide further details at the appropriate time.

Here is a timeline of last year's events.

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