Okay... perhaps that headline is a tad unfair.... but, according to a Japan Times article, Japan's Supreme Court has decided to dismiss the appeals of two companies regarding the suicide of a young worker.
Judgement for the plaintiff says the Nikon Corporation (yes, that camera company) and a temp agency located in Nagoya must pay compensatory damages for the 1999 death of Uendan Yuji (surname first), a 23-year-old man who killed himself due to work-induced depression.
Both companies will pay ¥70-million (~ US/Cdn $954,000) to Uendan's mother. Uendan killed himself while working at a Nikon plant in Saitama-ken (Saitama Prefecture), placed there by the temp agency.
Two years ago in 2009, the Tokyo High Court ruled that Uendan committed suicide due to depression caused by overwork and that both the temp agency and the company where he worked failed to exercise due care. Uendan was providing product inspection and working long and irregular hours in a windowless room with no space to relax.
Editors Note: I believe that Uendon had other mental health issues. Globally, how many people work every day in an environment similar to Uendon's but do not kill themselves? Thousands? Millions? How many people hate waking up in the morning because they dread going into work? How many people worry that they may not have a job tomorrow? We don't kill ourselves.
I once worked a job with 11 gorgeous women. Not bad, right? Well... six of them were bitches from Hell who hated the fact that their female boss had actually hired a man (me) to
invade their work environment.The room was 15 feet x 15 feet, and housed all 12 of us somehow. Windows - sure... just nowhere near me. What was incredible interesting, however was how all of the women altered their menstruation cycle to the alpha woman... so when it was that time of the month, I was completely screwed. I hated waking up and going to work. I hated being there. And, I hated leaving work knowing I had to come back. The pay sucked too, as did the work I was asked to perform. It was a stressful job and I hated darn near every single second of it while I was there... and yet, I did not even entertain the notion of killing myself. I may have entertained the notion of offing a few of the co-workers, but the important thing is that I in no way acted upon these dark thoughts. But Uendon did. Can't handle the job? Simply quit or change jobs. That's what I did over six years ago (to my current position as a magazine writer)! Uendon was a temporary employee hired through a temp agency! Quit. Get a new temp agency to help you find a job. No... this guy already had issues percolating in his brain.
I think the courts screwed up here. Is a company supposed to ensure you are mentally competent? I thought perhaps only to the degree that one can do their job. But this ruling, and the one from 2009, implies that companies really need to take better care of their employees... how? Would windows have saved Uendon from suicide? Not working off hours? He was a temporary employee. He had the choice to work those hours or not - to seek out another job where the work wasn't going to kill him.
It is my opinion that societies all over the world do not do enough for people with mental health issues. Canada does a good job, but it could be better. While those who seek it out can get the government-sponsored medicines they need and the psycho health care... but that's only when they realize and accept that there is a problem. I know many people who suffer with depression, social anxiety disorders, manic-depression, schizophrenia and more. Some are able to work and function 'normally' thanks to medication. Others get life-time financial aid when they can't work.
Does Japan have proper mental health agencies for people? They certainly have provided some aid for kids who lost a parent or parents after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters (story HERE). There's also the comfort doll for the elderly: HERE.
I'd love to hear from Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers about this topic... or from any of you dear readers about what mental health coverage your country provides... or covers up.
Andrew (It's 3AM??!!) Joseph
PS: And no... I do not have any mental health issues... in case you though I did, which would explain so much.