Japanese Residents Have Been Judged to Be Workers
Japanese Residents Have Been Judged to Be
To the Editor..
On June 3, 2005, the Supreme Court of Japan determined that Kansai Medical University must pay a wage compatible with Minimal Wage Law to the family of a resident who died by gkaroshih (fatigue-related death). The dead resident was recognized as a student by the university and paid 60 000 yen (550 dollars) per month as scholarship, which was below the Japanese minimum wage.1 By this judgment, it was confirmed that Japanese residents are workers and protected by Minimal Wage Law and Labor Standard Law.
According to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, 493 (72.1%) of 596 inspected hospitals violated labor-related laws such as Labor Standard Law.2 Until now, despite many violations of labor-related laws in Japanese hospitals, few medical residents complained to the governmental offices that oversee occupational standards because of their shortage of legal knowledge. Furthermore, Japanese people could buy medical services at low cost from residents, who work for a long time without proper wages. However, proper personnel management of medical residents as workers is needed, as deemed by the judgment of the Supreme Court of Japan.
Akira Ehara, MD, PhD
Koala Medical Research
Sapporo, Hokkaido 062-0021, Japan
1. Supreme Court of Japan. Judgment concerning whether a medical resident
was a worker defined by Minimal Wage Law and Labor Standard Law [in
Japanese]. Available at: http://courtdomino2.courts.go.jp/judge.nsf/
OpenDocument. Accessed June 14, 2005
2. Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Night duty of physicians and
Labor Standard Law [in Japanese]. Available at: www.mhlw.go.jp/
shingi/2005/04/s0425-6a.html. Accessed April 25, 2005