Filipino trainee ‘died from overwork’ – Japan's labor ministry
MANILA, Philippines – Japan's labor ministry has recognized the death of a 27-year-old Filipino trainee in Gifu Prefecture in 2014 as a case of karoshi, or death by overwork, Japanese media reported Monday, October 17.
The Gifu Labor Standard Inspection Office said Joey Tocnang, who came to Japan as a trainee at a casting company in August 2011, logged 122.5 hours of overtime every month before he died – a violation of Japan's labor code.
Tocnang, who cut steel and painted chemicals to a mold at his company, was reportedly paid minimum salary and sent most of his earnings to his wife and daughter in the Philippines.
Tocnang died of heart failure in 2014 inside his dorm, just 3 months before his scheduled return to the Philippines, according to the Asahi Shimbun.
Following Tocnang’s death, the labor office urged his family to claim for workers’ compensation which it did, prompting an investigation into the case.
Asahi Shimbun reported that the labor ministry recognized the family’s claim in August, entitling it to 3 million yen ($28,823) in lumpsum payment and 2 million yen ($19,221) annually in survivor’s annuity.
There has been an increasing number of compensation claims due to karoshi in Japan, according to a Reuters report.
The Japan Times said that Tocnang’s case marks the second time the government recognized a case of karoshi involving a foreign trainee. The first was in 2010 involving a Chinese intern who worked at a metal processing company in Itako, Ibaraki Prefecture.
Japan’s Technical Intern Training Program started in 1993, allowing the entry of trainees from developing countries like the Philippines. The program has been crticized in Japan and abroad, due to labor rights violations and occupational health and safety issues. – Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler.com
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