Tokyo Olympic stadium builder committed suicide because he was overworked, says family
The family of a builder who worked at the main Tokyo Olympic stadium has asked labour authorities to recognise his death in spring as job-related, claiming he killed himself because of overwork.
The 23-year-old Tokyo building firm employee died because of his heavy workload, which exceeded 200 extra hours per month, the family’s lawyer told a press conference on Thursday.
Tokyo is rushing to build the stadium before the 2020 games after ballooning cost estimates led to design changes that caused delays.
The groundbreaking of the National Stadium for the Olympic and Paralympic Games was pushed back by about 12 months to December last year after a costly original construction plan was scrapped.
“The working schedule was extremely tight. Even though [the Olympics] is a national event, labourers’ lives should not be sacrificed,” lawyer Hiroshi Kawahito said.
After graduating from university, the man joined the building firm in April 2016 and managed ground improvement works at the stadium site from mid-December that year, according to Kawahito.
He went missing after telling the company that he would take leave on March 2, and his body was found on April 15 in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan. A note found near the man’s body led police to believe he killed himself.
The construction company originally told the family that his overtime hours were within 80 hours a month, in line with the labour-management agreement.
But the family learnt after examining records of his entering and leaving the stadium site, and tracking his computer use, that he worked about 211 and 143 hours overtime, one and two months respectively before his disappearance.
On July 12, the family applied for workers’ compensation claiming that the man’s death was related to his suffering from depression and other psychological issues caused by his work schedule.
“We deeply apologise. We take the matter seriously so that this will never happen again,” the construction company said in a statement.
Taisei Corp, prime contractor of the stadium construction, also said in a statement, “The specialised construction firm is responsible for labour management. We will instruct the company to strictly comply with the law.”