Karoshi Of Teachers


Karoshi -Overwork Death- 

~Tragedy of a Dedicating Teacher and His Wife~


  'Karoshi,' meaning 'overwork death,' is one of the shameful words in Japan's labor culture. School teachers are no exception. There have been teachers who loved and devoted themselves to this job, as a result, lost their lives. The following is one of such tragedies.


  Kudo Sachiko has been struggling against karoshi, or overwork death, problems since her husband died 10 years ago.


  Sachiko's husband, Yoshio, died at the age of forty. He was a PE teacher at a junior high school in Yokohama.


   Yoshio's death was a tragedy itself. but there were serious problems relating his death. One is too much burden and too long work hours. The other is the difficulty in having the case approved as a work-related death. The following is the details.


  Kudo Yoshio was a PE teacher at a junior high school in Yokohama. He was so excellent a teacher that he was assigned a lot of tasks.

  It was two years before he died that he had been especially busy--he became year master, school soccer team coach, and in charge of discipline. His day started at 7am for soccer coaching, and got home around 9pm, but had to do some work even at home.

  Besides, he was a regional soccer team coach, too.

  Although he was unbelievably busy, he often told Sachiko that he loved his job and actually he kept doing his best.

   Next year, a year before his death, Yoshio still was in charge of the senior year, the school soccer team, discipline, and career guidance.

  Busy as he was, he once said, "No one except me can complete these tasks, so I must do. Fortunately, other teachers kindly helped me."


  However, he was moved to another school where teachers take more pains in student discipline. 

 He died just 2 months after he came to the new school.  Here he had been in charge of discipline, which forced him to attend many meetings outside school, of course after his schoolwork.

  However, the school did not reduce his tasks. He had as many classes and lessons as other teachers.

  According to Sachiko, he said, "I don't want to," for the first time.

  Although he had already been exhausted, he was told by the principal to go on the school trip.

  During the 3 days of the school trip, he could hardly sleep because he had to check every students' room. As soon as he got home, he fell down with heavy headache. He could not get out of bed for a few days.

  Just two days later, however, he went to a soccer game of his team. He just sat under a tree and coached students.


  This was the last job for Yoshio.


  10 days later, he died of subarachnoid hemorrhage.


   It was natural that Sachiko thought Yoshio's case was a work-related death. However, she found it quite difficult to prove his extremely long work, because the school did not manage how long each teacher worked, so no one could prove Yoshio's overwork.

  Actually, the workers' compensation organization approved of just a month of Yoshio's overwork. Sachiko and his friends were filled with anger.

  Finally, it took her another five years to get Yoshio's death approved as a work-related death.

  The workers' compensation organization said, "We cannot count his overwork hours because of insufficient proofs, but it is supposed that if the school would not have been managed if he had not done these jobs.



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