The case of overworking in Japan has reared its ugly head once again, which was made more apparent following the death of veteran animator Kazunori Mizuno last March 19. He was 52 years old.
Mizuno was known for working on the animation of popular anime shows Naruto and Bleach. He also directed the classic comedy anime Doctor Dokkiri.
Kazuyoshi Yaginuma, who worked in several Naruto Shippuden movie adaptations, posted on his Twitter account about Mizuno’s passing after his family and friends mourned for the veteran animator.
According to Yaginuma, who is a friend of Mizuno, the veteran animator felt ill while working during the holidays last month and decided to take a nap in his studio. However, he did not wake up and passed away in his sleep.
— 柳沼和良 (@yaginuma_san) April 6, 2017
In a now-deleted Twitter post by @fujisan79, one of Mizuno’s friends, he honored his colleague while pointing out how animators in Japan are overworked and finding it hard to take a break due to hectic schedules.
As of press time, there is no official word about the animator’s cause of death yet. However, experts expressed that they would not be surprised if the veteran animator’s passing is related to exhaustion.
Aside from his long history on Bleach and Naruto, Mizuno also worked on anime titles like Yu Yu Hakusho and Akira among others. He had worked in the animation industry for 30 years.
Fans have also expressed their grief for the animator’s death on Twitter.
Kazunori Mizuno has passed away. He has been working in the industry for about 30 years and is known for directing the better episodes of.. pic.twitter.com/omkqR4LNkl
— DarkNora (@dark_nora) April 6, 2017
— そのえ (@karin_sonoe) March 21, 2017
WHAT?! I didn't know Kazunori Mizuno passed away. RIP
— リボレクさん (@liborek3) April 6, 2017
— Lilly (@Naruchiiko) April 9, 2017
Karoshi, which literally translates to “Death from overwork”, has been a huge problem in the Japanese workforce since the 1980s because of strict work culture and working long hours. Hundreds of deaths from Karoshi has been reported every year, either from heart attacks, strokes or suicide.
In a survey released by the Japanese government last October, about 21 percent of employees who logged 49 hours or more per week.
The Japan Times newspaper cites a report from Japan’s National Police Agency which says there are about 2,159 people who took their own lives in 2015, at least partly due to work-related issues.