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As karoshi ( Jap. 過労死 , Death by reworking ) is called in Japan a sudden work-related death . The most common cause of death is a stress- induced heart attack or stroke . It is controversial whether suicides that can be traced back to work-related mental illness ( 過 労 自殺 Karōjisatsu ) fall under the definition. About 40 Japanese clinics specialize in Karōshi-endangered cases. The phenomenon is also widespread in South Korea , where it is called kwarosa ( 과로사 , 過勞 dort ). In China, death caused by overwork is known as guòláosǐ ( 过劳 死 ).


The first case of Karōshi was reported in 1969 when a 29-year-old married worker died of a stroke in the mail order division of Japan's largest newspaper. However, the media did not become aware of this phenomenon until late 1980, after several middle-aged executive managers suddenly died with no prior signs of illness . This phenomenon was shortly thereafter referred to as Karōshi , and as public concern about it increased in 1987, the Japanese Ministry of Labor began publishing Karōshi statistics .

Cause and consequences

The cause of the Karōshi Falls is the rapid economic rise of Japan after the Second World War . It is now recognized that workers cannot work six to seven days a week for more than twelve hours a day for years without suffering physically and mentally.

Due to the legal recognition that has now taken place as a form of liability subject to liability, more and more relatives of Karōshi victims are suing their employers for compensation payments . However, before compensation can be awarded, the Labor Inspection Agency must recognize the case as an occupational death.


  • Oliver Tieste: Karôshi, a Japanese phenomenon? Causes and legal background regarding death at work. A comparative law study . Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-631-36608-6 .
  • Oliver Tieste: Death through overwork. Background on labor and social security law, substantive, epidemiological and operational framework conditions of the Karoshi phenomenon in Japan and Germany . Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-631-50869-7 .
  • Oliver Tieste: Liability case stress illness. Limits and scope of the employer's liability for stress-induced illnesses of employees . Wirtschaftsverlag NW Verlag für neue Wissenschaften 2005, ISBN 3-86509-245-4 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. 第 2 章 産業 精神 保健 の 動向. 厚生 労 働 省 , accessed March 15, 2017 (Japanese).
  2. Ko Dong-hwan: Koreans being overworked to death in 'kwarosa'. In: The Korea Times . February 27, 2017, accessed February 27, 2017 .
  3. Shai Oster: Is Work Killing You? In China, Workers Die at Their Desks. In: Bloomberg . June 30, 2014, accessed February 27, 2017 .