Finally: Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe is heading up a panel to reduce overtime maximum limits to 100 hours a month. This news follows on the heels of what appears to be a national health crisis: Death by overwork, or karoshi.

Tokyo’s bid to ease a national health crisis comes after the top executive at advertising giant Dentsu (Frankfurt: 763961news) quit late last year in response to the suicide of a young employee who regularly logged more than 100 hours of overtime a month.

The death of Matsuri Takahashi generated nationwide headlines, prompting the government to come up with a solution to punishing work hours blamed for hundreds of deaths due to strokes, heart attacks and suicides every year.

A panel headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has since come up with a plan calling for a maximum of 100 overtime hours a month.

The conservative leader called it a “historic step for changing the way people work in Japan” but critics think the plan should be given its marching orders.

The Labour Lawyers’ Association of Japan has slammed the proposed cap as “extremely inappropriate” and “impossible to support”.

“It’s tantamount to endorsing a limit that could cause overwork deaths,” said Association head Ichiro Natsume.

Others who have lost loved ones to karoshi agree.

“We cannot accept this — it’s outrageous,” said Emiko Teranishi, who heads a group for relatives of karoshi victims.

“I thought the government was finally going to tackle the issue…. But this has turned out to be (a) step backward rather than a step forward.”

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