Stop Karoshi Deaths Of Young Doctors From Overwork And Power Harassment
Junko Takashima, mother of Dr. Shingo Takashima
Brother of Dr. Shingo Takashima
Kenji Shibuya, Research Director, The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research

13:00-14:00 Friday, December 15, 2023
Language: The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with simultaneous interpretation.

Dr Shingo Takashima was just 26 when he took his own life in May 2022. The Labor Standards Inspection Office, in recognizing that it was a work-related suicide, found that he had worked for 100 straight days right until his death, clocking more than 200 hours of overtime a month at a Kobe hospital. He is but one of several young doctors to have killed themselves in recent years, suffering mental distress from overwork and power harassment.

Dr Takashima's bereaved family do not want his death to be in vain. Together with Dr Kenji Shibuya of think-tank The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research, they are urging extensive reforms by highlighting the harsh realities faced by young doctors in many Japanese hospitals.

Under new government regulations from April 2024, doctors cannot work beyond an in-principle 960 overtime hours a year – or an average 80 overtime hours a month. The law also provides for "exceptional cases" to allow up to 1,860 overtime hours a year, or an average 155 overtime hours a month.

Yet these changes do not go far enough, argue Dr Shibuya and the bereaved family. Japan recognizes 80 monthly overtime hours as the threshold for karoshi (death by overwork). As it is, some hospitals burden junior doctors with excessive paperwork, and expect "service overtime" for tasks including research for medical society presentations.

Dr Takashima's mother and elder brother, who is also a medical doctor, will address the challenges faced by young doctors together with Dr Shibuya, in the hopes of raising awareness and triggering positive change for the honorable profession.

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