Since the Japanese Health Ministry first recognized Karoshi (literally death from too much work) in 1987, the number of claims has steadily increased. In fact, in the year between March of 2006 and 2007, there were 303 claims of Karoshi made, with 147 of those cases acknowledged as accurate by the government. Those are some sobering statistics, and the auto industry in Japan is certainly not immune to the problem. An unnamed man who was a lead engineer on the Camry hybrid project from Toyota died from overwork in January of 2006, according to a recent ruling by the Health Ministry. The forty-five year old man is said to have worked eighty hours of overtime per month, including nights and weekends. He died from heart disease the day before he was scheduled to leave for the U.S. as part of the team preparing for the Detroit Auto Show.
Toyota, for its part, has acknowledged the ruling and says it will work on improving the monitoring of its employees. This latest case will certainly lend some credence for some regarding the recent allegations of workers rights abuses by Toyota, though it is impossible for us to accurately say whether or not the auto giant is directly responsible for the man's death.

[Source: AP via Yahoo]

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