Toyota apologizes in settlement over harassment suicide

Tokyo June 7, 2021: Toyota has apologized and pledged to handle work environment harassment after settling with the family of a employee who committed suicide following repeated abuse by his boss.

The 28-year-old engineer dies by suicide in 2017, in the wake of being consistently abused by his boss, including allegedly being advised: “It would be better if you died”

His death was perceived as business related in 2019 by a regional labour board, as per local media, and a Toyota representative affirmed Monday that the firm reached an out-of-court settlement with the family in April.In an announcement made on Monday, the automaker communicated distress over the man’s death and said it “takes seriously the fact that the precious life of one of our important employees has been lost”.

“We are developing and implementing preventative measures to ensure that such a painful episode is never repeated,” it added. It said the actions would incorporate an extension of the organization’s counseling framework and severe discipline for harassment at work.

The details of the settlement were not revealed.

Toyota said the supervisor accused of harassment was punished but didn’t give additional details. Yoshihide Tachino, a lawyer for the man’s family, said Toyota president Akio Toyoda had visited them to apologize directly. “We are still feeling pain in our hearts over what happened to our beloved son,” the family said in a statement.

“Whenever we think about him, we wish desperately to be able to see him once again.” Tachino said Japan remained “notorious” for poor working conditions. “We used to see a lot of cases of deaths from overwork, but the number of complaints about workplace harassment is now increasing,” he told press He said the Toyota settlement was “symbolic” and could have knock-on effects because the automaker is such a well-known and important firm in Japan.

Japan has long had the highest suicide rate among the Group of Seven advanced countries, though regionally South Korea registers higher figures. Authorities ramped up efforts to tackle deaths from overwork following the 2015 suicide of a young employee at Japan’s biggest advertising agency Dentsu, who regularly logged more than 100 hours of overtime a month.

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