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    :: Friday, December 07, 2007 ::

    Widow of Toyota worker questions labor practices - By Chang-Ran Kim, Asia auto correspondent, Boston.com
    TOKYO (Reuters) - When Kenichi Uchino collapsed and died on the factory floor before dawn one February day in 2002, he was into his fourth hour of overtime.

    In his final month at the Toyota car plant, he had logged more than 106 hours overtime, most of it unpaid. He died from sudden heart failure at just 30 years old.

    A district court ruled last week that Uchino had literally worked himself to death. It was a hard-fought victory for his widow, Hiroko, after almost six years of legal battles while holding down her own job and raising two young children.

    But the issue of 'karoshi', a household Japanese term meaning 'death from overwork' is underplayed in Japan, she says. Workers are too often expected to sacrifice their personal lives and happiness for the company's benefit.
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