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159 hours of overtime killed young Japanese journalist; 'karoshi' or overwork is a rampant problem in Japan
That gruelling work schedules can be hazardous for one's health was proved beyond doubt this week after Japan's state-run broadcaster, NHK, announced that their young journalist had died due to overwork in 2013.

Miwa Sado, 31, spent the summer of 2013 covering two local elections in Tokyo clocking 159 hours of overtime in a month. Almost every day she would work till late night; rarely taking offs on weekends.

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However unfortunately, her exhaustive work schedule took a heavy toll on Sado's health. Barely a month after her 31st birthday and just days after the second election, she died of congestive heart failure.

The case is being considered as the latest high-profile example of 'karoshi', a Japanese term which means "death from overwork".

A government investigation of 2014 had also found that Sado had indeed died due to her gruelling work life.

Karoshi emerged as a major problem during the late 80s with reports of industrial workers capsizing at work thereby exposing the dark side of Japan's postwar economic miracle. With passage of time, cases of karoshi became even more common among Japan's white-collard work force.

In 2015, the president of advertising agency Dentsu was forced to resign after 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi, an employee, jumped to her death from the roof of her dormitory. She left a suicide note for her mother which read: "Why do things have to be so hard?"

In fact, in a 2016 government survey, nearly a quarter of the companies said that they had some employees doing overtime for more than 80 hours in a month.

In a white paper released last year on the prevention of Karoshi, the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training noted that "undeniable problem's in Japan's work force environment" were especially detrimental to regular employees under age 35.

In February this year, Keidanren, Japan's largest business group along with the Japanese government introduced a new concept named "Premium Friday" to encourage companies to allow their employees to leave office at 3 pm on the last Friday of the month. However, sadly, only a few companies are participating in the initiative.

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