Tadashi Ishii, the President and Chief Executive of Dentsu (TYO:4324) have put in his papers after one of the workers committed suicide over long overtime hours. Dentsu is among the largest advertising and public relations companies in Japan. According to reports, the company has often been blamed for the culture of making staff members work for insanely long hours.
Dentsu has confirmed the resignation, saying Ishii will step down after the board meeting that will be held in January.
Tadashi Ishii issued a statement saying, “We deeply regret failing to prevent the overwork of our new recruit. I offer a sincere apology to the bereaved family and everyone in society”. The company too issued a statement, “We take the incident seriously. We offer our apology to those concerned for causing such a situation”.
Dentsu Under the Scanner for Poor Work Conditions
The advertising and public relations business has 47,000 workers and operates in 140 countries. Regulators in the country have found that the junior employee Matsuri Takahashi was forced to work excessively long hours, and this contributed to her suicide, as she could not take the punishing workload. Takahashi, who was 24 years old, had worked for 105 hours more in the month, beyond her stipulated working hours.
The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare of Japan raided the offices of Dentsu (TYO:4324) and later referred the case to prosecutors.
Investigation carried out by the authorities revealed that more than 30 employees at Dentsu were being forced to work for excessively long hours, though this is illegal in Japan. Both the employees and management were underreporting these overtime hours to stay on the right side of the law. It is almost a certainty that many top executives of the company were also forcing the working to put in these long hours. The probe is still ongoing, and many executives might be identified.
Dentsu’s Other Branches and Many Japanese Firms Are Doing This Too
But this is not a problem with Dentsu alone. Many other Japanese firms force their employees to put in excessively long hours. Dentsu themselves have been in trouble before for the same reason. A 24-year-old employee committed suicide back in 1991 because of overwork. The agency’s Kansai and Chubu branches and their headquarters in Tokyo too have accepted in the past of making the employees work long hours illegally. The country’s labor authorities had asked Dentsu to correct these practices.