Photo/IllutrationJapan Broadcasting Corp. President Ryoichi Ueda (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The president of Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) promised drastic changes to the organization’s working conditions while bereaved parents blasted the public broadcaster for failing to inform its staff that their daughter died from overwork.

President Ryoichi Ueda vowed to protect the health of NHK workers at a regular news conference held on Oct. 5, a day after the broadcaster announced that the death of an NHK reporter in 2013 was recognized as a case of “karoshi” (death from overwork).

“We are taking the recognition very seriously,” Ueda said. “We will fundamentally review the working system for reporters. NHK as a whole will make further efforts for work-style reforms. We will do our best to secure the health of our staff.”

The reporter, Miwa Sado, was 31 years old and working at the broadcasting center covering the Tokyo metropolitan area when she died of congestive heart failure at her apartment in the capital in July 2013. Labor authorities said she worked more than 150 hours of overtime a month before her death.

“I’m full of sorrow as we lost a capable reporter,” Ueda said.

NHK has said it delayed the announcement of Sado’s death because her parents indicated they didn’t want it made public.

Her parents on Oct. 5 issued a statement about their daughter’s death.

“Those who are engaged in covering, editing and analyzing karoshi-related news and programs … did not even know that karoshi had occurred in their broadcasting station,” the statement said. “We want them to do their job of reporting while straightening themselves out.”

After the Shibuya Labor Standards Inspection Office in 2014 judged that Sado died from overwork, the head of the broadcasting center apologized to her parents at their home.

The parents late last month were invited to an NHK training workshop, where the executive director of broadcasting and a senior director offered their apologies.

Katsuto Momii, who was NHK president from 2014 to January this year, did not apologize.

On Oct. 6, Ueda, who replaced Momii, visited her parents at their house and apologized.

According to NHK’s public relations office, Ueda expressed his determination to take measures to reduce long working hours to prevent a recurrence of karoshi.

After Sado’s death, NHK required its employees to obtain permission from their superiors when they work after 10 p.m. or on holidays. It also reviewed how reporters cover elections and other events.

As a result, NHK held its practice runs for election coverage on weekdays instead of weekends.

Hiroshi Kawahito, a lawyer for Sado’s parents, also issued a statement: “Overwork must not be tolerated even though the media’s role has a very high public nature.”

(This article was written by Shohei Makiuchi and Shun Niekawa.)