Young doctor's family sues hospital in Kobe over his suicide

The bereaved family of a young doctor has filed a damages lawsuit against the hospital he worked for in the western Japanese city of Kobe, arguing that his suicide was caused by overwork.

The trial over Takashima Shingo's death opened at the Osaka District Court on Monday.

The 26-year-old doctor, who had been working for Konan Medical Center, developed depression and killed himself in May 2022.

His parents say he logged 236 hours of overtime in the month before his death. They argue that the hospital failed to reduce his workload, although it knew the long work hours could harm his mental and physical health.

The parents are demanding that the hospital's operator and its head Gu Eisei pay 234 million yen, or about 1.5 million dollars.

Takashima's mother told the court that the hospital had been cautioned by a local labor standards inspection office before her son died, and that his colleagues had demanded a better working environment.

The hospital asked the court to reject the case, saying that Takashima's workload was at a normal level and that he was not subject to excessive work.

Takashima was working for an academic society during the time when he was not seeing his patients.

The hospital says such activity is categorized as self-study.

It also says Takashima was not working the whole time he was at his workplace, and that the time spent for self-study does not represent work hours.