Japanese reporter died after 159 hours of overtime

Miwa Sado died of congestive heart failure in 2013 after working 159 hours and 37 minutes of overtime in one month. (AFP)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Japanese reporter died after 159 hours of overtime

TOKYO: Japan’s public broadcaster has vowed to reform its working practices as it revealed that a young reporter died of heart failure after logging 159 hours of overtime in a month.
NHK reporter Miwa Sado, 31, who had been covering political news in Tokyo, was found dead in her bed in July 2013, reportedly clutching her mobile phone.
A year later, Japanese authorities said her death was linked to excessive overtime. She had two days off in the month before she died.
NHK eventually made the case public four years afterwards, bowing to pressure from Sado’s parents to take action to prevent a recurrence.
The case again highlights the Japanese problem of karoshi, or death from overwork, amid the country’s notoriously long work hours.
It is also an embarrassing revelation for NHK, which has campaigned against the nation’s long working culture.
Sato covered Tokyo assembly elections in June 2013 and an upper-house vote for the national parliament the following month.
She died three days after the upper-house election.
“My heart breaks at the thought that she may have wanted to call me” in her last moments, her mother told the Asahi daily.
“With Miwa gone, I feel like half of my body has been torn off. I won’t be able to laugh for real for the rest of my life.”
The revelation shocked the nation as NHK has actively reported tragic deaths at other companies, including the 2015 suicide of a young woman at major advertising agency Dentsu after logging more than 100 hours of overtime a month.
The chief of NHK has pledged to improve work conditions at the broadcaster.
“We are sorry that we lost an excellent reporter and take seriously the fact that her death was recognized as work-related,” President Ryoichi Ueda said Thursday.
“We will continue to work for reform in cooperation with her parents,” he told reporters.


Google employees demand more oversight of China search engine plan

A Google sign is seen during the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (ChinaJoy) in Shanghai, China August 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Google employees demand more oversight of China search engine plan

  • Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability
  • Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects

SAN FRANCISCO: Google is not close to launching a search engine app in China, its chief executive said at a companywide meeting on Thursday, according to a transcript seen by Reuters, as employees of the Alphabet Inc. unit called for more transparency and oversight of the project.
Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told staff that though development is in an early stage, providing more services in the world’s most populous country fits with Google’s global mission.
Hoping to gain approval from the Chinese government to provide a mobile search service, the company plans to block some websites and search terms, Reuters reported this month, citing unnamed sources.
Whether the company could or would launch search in China “is all very unclear,” Pichai said, according to the transcript. “The team has been in an exploration stage for quite a while now, and I think they are exploring many options.”
Disclosure of the secretive effort has disturbed some Google employees and human rights advocacy organizations. They are concerned that by agreeing to censorship demands, Google would validate China’s prohibitions on free expression and violate the “don’t be evil” clause in the company’s code of conduct.
Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability,” according to an internal petition seen by Reuters on Thursday.
After a separate petition this year, Google announced it would not renew a project to help the US military develop artificial intelligence technology for drones.
The China petition says employees are concerned the project, code named Dragonfly, “makes clear” that ethics principles Google issued during the drone debate “are not enough.”
“We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we’re building,” states the document seen by Reuters.
The New York Times first reported the petition on Thursday. Google declined to comment.
Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly, and their remarks at the company-wide meeting marked their first about the project since details about it were leaked.
Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects that raise substantial ethical questions.
Pichai told employees: “We’ll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here” on Dragonfly, according to the transcript. He noted the company guards information on some projects where sharing too early can “cause issues.”
Three former employees involved with Google’s past efforts in China told Reuters current leadership may see offering limited search results in China as better than providing no information at all.
The same rationale led Google to enter China in 2006. It left in 2010 over an escalating dispute with regulators that was capped by what security researchers identified as state-sponsored cyberattacks against Google and other large US firms.
The former employees said they doubt the Chinese government will welcome back Google. A Chinese official, who declined to be named, told Reuters this month that it is “very unlikely” Dragonfly would be available this year.