Testing Firm on Trial: This Week in Osaka April 19th to 26th 2024

Each week, here at Osaka.com, we bring you a selection of some of the top stories about Osaka making the local and national news here in Japan. Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s funny, but it’s always direct to you, from Osaka.

Here’s a look at some of the stories hitting the headlines in Osaka this week.

Testing Company Implicated in Worker’s Suicide

PCR Tests saved millions of lives, but also led to huge burdens on testing staff.

The widow of a worker at a medical testing company today began court proceedings against her late husband’s employer.

Her husband was employed by Nihon Rinsho INC. He worked out of the Kyoto firm’s Suita City sales office, in Osaka Prefecture. The victim died in August 2020, taking his own life. In the month leading up to his death, he logged 98 hours of overtime. The company served as a major facilitator for testing and tracing at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to reports, the victim’s workload increased dramatically from early 2020 onwards. Collecting samples from medical institutions for Covid-19 testing

His wife recalled him sometimes coming home as late as 2am, and working on his computer even on holidays. He developed severe depression in early August and died two weeks later.


Testing Company “Failed in their Duty of Care”

Samples are prepared for testing.

The Ibaraki Labor Standards Inspection Office looked into the case after the victim’s widow contacted them. The Office noted that, in addition to the 98 hours of overtime from mid-July to mid-August, the victim also logged 84 hours the previous month. This in of itself was a 61 hour increase based on his work just one month prior. The massive surge in overtime hours correlates directly with the national rollout of PCR testing for Covid-19.

The Ibaraki Labor Standards Investigation Office concluded that the victim’s untimely death at just 41 years old was, indeed, work-related. Armed with this damning evidence, his wife is now pursuing Nihon Rinsho for compensation. Her legal team claims that the company’s senior management “failed in their duty of care to ensure that the mental and physical health of employees was not compromised.”

If you are in Japan and you or someone you care about is having suicidal thoughts, then please contact TELL Japan on 03-5774-0992. Their English-speaking team of support staff are ready to help you.

Controversy Over Kids’ Genetic Testing

Even the youngest kids in Japan now face a testing time.

Day care providers in Osaka moved to distance themselves this week from a growing controversy engulfing some care providers in the Kanto region. Childcare providers in Osaka spoke out in opposition to the use of genetic testing to determine children’s intelligence and ability levels.

The tests have no solid scientific merit and their conclusions are, at best, highly questionable. The case highlights a dubious loophole in the current framing of the laws around genetic testing and the use of those testing results. At the moment, the use of genetic testing by medical institutions is heavily regulated. There are strict controls on what genetic information medics can gather, and how that information can then be used.

However, when it comes to consumer rights, there are no such limitations. In essence, so long as the service provided is not of a medical nature, then it’s a completely open market. One Osaka-based childcare provider, speaking anonymously, had this to say: “It’s not irresponsible, it’s dangerous. Children learn at different speeds and in different ways. There is no genetic “magic bullet” that will tell you your child’s destiny. This kind of false advertising shouldn’t be allowed, especially when it concerns child welfare.”

And Finally

Osaka’s pigeons may now need to look elsewhere for lunch.

One Osaka resident found themselves in trouble this week, for feeding the birds!

The Osaka Municipal Government issued a cease and desist order this week to one bird lover over their habit of feeding pigeons. For more than ten years, the individual in question fed pigeons at Nagai Station and Abikocho Station in Sumiyoshi Ward. This led to complaints from residents and business about the excessive noise the birds caused, and the large amounts of fecal matter they left behind after feeding.

The cease and desist order is believed to be the first of its kind in Japan. The order stands until April 2025. If the feeder does not comply, they could face a fine of up to 500,000 yen for violating animal welfare laws.

As of now, the pigeons have made no comment on the matter, though judging by their squawking, they don’t seem too happy about it!

That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!


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