The Tokyo Labour Bureau is understood to have raided four Dentsu offices in Japan in connection with the recent suicide of a young employee, which was ruled to be a result of overwork.
According to a report in the Financial Times, the raids took place without warning on Friday. The move aims to determine whether the situation that led to the suicide of the employee, Matsuri Takahashi, was a one-off case or part of a deeper problem in Dentsu’s working culture.
Industry sources have indicated that overwork is a major problem at a number of companies in Japan's advertising sector.
The ministry of health, labour and welfare recently released a white paper detailing Japan’s widespread custom of working long overtime hours. Based on responses from around 1,700 companies and 20,000 workers, the report found that employees at nearly a quarter of firms work more than 80 hours of overtime a month. According to Japan’s National Police Agency, more than 2,000 people committed suicide due to work-related issues in 2015.
A law designed to prevent karoshi (death from overwork) has been in place in Japan since 2014. It has proved difficult to enforce, but companies found to promote extreme overworking are liable for prosecution.