A renowned Japanese all-female theatre company has acknowledged its responsibility for the demise of a young actress, whose overwork was reportedly the cause of her suicide.
Takarazuka Revue executives issued an apology for the “loss of life” but did not disclose a monetary compensation package for the family of the 25-year-old.
Additionally, Chairman Kenshi Koba announced his resignation.
One of the most renowned companies in Japan, entry is highly competitive.
Established in 1913, this ensemble has garnered cult status in Japan due to its extravagant stagings of romantic musicals.
Young female vocalists and dancers aspire to join the troupe, which is in high demand and operates according to a strict hierarchy. By frequently portraying men, the female performers attract enormous audiences.
“A strong psychological burden was unquestionably placed on [the woman], and our duty of care for her safety was not adequately discharged,” Mr. Koba stated at a news conference held at the revue’s headquarters in the western city of Takarazuka.
He expressed profound remorse to family members, stating, “We were unable to safeguard a priceless member of your household.”
Chairman’s Acknowledgment of Neglected Duty
Mr. Koba responded to the family’s demand for compensation as follows: “I wish to ensure that they receive an apology and compensation.
“Unfortunately, we have not yet had the opportunity,” he was quoted as saying by the public broadcaster NHK.
New measures were pledged by the chairman and two other executives to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents. There are intentions to decrease the frequency of weekly performances from nine to eight.
However, they claimed to be unaware of the difficulties faced by youthful performers in the musical troupe. They issued a statement stating that they were unaware of any staff shortages and had not received any complaints.
The actress who had been employed by the organisation for a period of six years remains unnamed. Her family has elected to maintain their anonymity due to the lingering social censure associated with suicide in Japan.
The body was discovered in her Takarazuka condominium on September 30th. According to the police, her death was an apparent suicide.
Investigation and Allegations
The company appointed an independent team, consisting primarily of solicitors, to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the demise. No incidents of intimidation or harassment were confirmed to have occurred during the news conference.
Nonetheless, the report concluded that “long hours of activities and senior members’ pressure may have unquestionably imposed a psychological burden” on the woman.
The company is being sued for compensation by her family. Overwork and teasing in high school “compromised her mental and physical health,” the actress’s family’s counsel said last week.
The attorney stated that she was employed by the company under an outsourcing agreement and that her monthly overtime worked in excess of 277 hours, which was in excess of the government’s worker compensation standards. The figure, as reported by Takarazuka Revue, is 118 hours per month.
The woman’s family also claims a senior staffer used a hair iron to burn her forehead two years ago. The company refuted this allegation in February when it was published in a weekly magazine.
Her family said in a statement that the company “turned a blind eye while subjecting [the actress] to abnormal, excessively long working hours, leaving her extremely exhausted” and demanded an apology and admission of responsibility from the company and those it accused of abusing their daughter.
According to investigators, the Asahi Shimbun was informed that “we could not confirm (that it was intentional).” They reported that a senior member of the troupe had used a hair iron to burn the 25-year-old’s forehead.