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Kawahito Law Office, headed by Hiroshi Kawahito, was founded in 1995, and consists of three attorneys. Based on the individual members' expertise and rich experience in various fields of practice, we provide our clients with sound legal counsel and representation in diverse legal affairs. Furthermore, we have gained honor especially in the area of problems of overwork, including the problems of death from overwork or "karoshi", as well as human rights in North Korea and the abduction of the Japanese by North Korea.
In 1988 we launched the "karoshi hotline" with attorneys, doctors, and specialists from all over Japan to give the best counsel to those who suffer from overworking as well as those who have lost their family member from overworking.
Since then, there have been over 9,000 calls. Recently, consultations over suicide have increased significantly. For the past eleven consecutive years, there have been over 30,000 suicides in Japan, several thousands of which are due to overwork and stress in their working environment.
Precedent: "The Dentsu Inc. case"---This was the first case where the Supreme Court ruled that a company has a legal responsibility for an employee's suicide due to overwork. Attorney Kawahito was in charge of representing the family of the employee. In 2000, after the case was remanded to the Tokyo High Court, Dentsu Inc., the biggest advertising agency in Japan, admitted that it was responsible for the 1991 suicide of a twenty-four-year-old employee who had become depressed due to excessive working hours, and agreed to pay 168,000,000 yen to his family in compensation in order to settle this case. The settlement, first proposed by the Tokyo High Court, marks the first case in Japan in which a company accepted blame for the suicide of an employee apparently caused by a depression from overwork.
Abduction by North Korea, Human Rights in North Korea
We had had meetings with other attorneys to learn about the abduction of Japanese people by North Korea long before North Korea admitted it in 2002. On March 18, 2003, we finally formed "Meeting of lawyers that helps the victims of abduction by North Korea" to work on this issue. Japanese government acknowledges eleven cases and sixteen victims of the abduction by North Korea. However, there seem to be more victims of abductions, and there are many families who request investigation of possible abductees. Abduction is a severe violation of human rights and is certainly a cruel crime which the victims and the families have suffered for twenty-five or thirty years. "Meeting of lawyers that helps the victims of abduction by North Korea " has been working in cooperation with the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea to examine the cases. "Meeting of lawyers that helps the victims of abduction by North Korea" changed its name to "Japanese Lawyers Association for Human Rights Protection in North Korea" in 2004, and also works on the violation of human rights in concentration camps in North Korea.
Attorney Kawahito is the head of the representatives of the suit requesting Noriko Furukawa, another missing person, to be acknowledged as the victim of abduction by North Korea.
Seminar for "Law, Society, Human Rights"
Attorney Kawahito has been teaching a seminar called "the Law, Society, and the Human Rights" at the University of Tokyo since 1992. Each year, over 100 students learn in this seminar the diverse problems that the modern society has through fieldworks in companies, schools, free schools, NGO, hospitals, media, prisons, and workhouses, etc. The seminar organized fieldworks in Kobe to visit the temporary housings of the area devastated by the earthquake of January 17, 1995, as well as visited the sites of Wakayama Curry case, Matsumoto Sarin case, Abduction of Ms. Megumi Yokota, the Hansen's disease isolation island, the waste polluted Teshima, and Okinawa concerning the problems of American bases. Students of the seminar also learned farming at the Asian Rural Institute with students from developing countries in the last two years. The seminar also has oversea fieldworks every year. The seminar has visited slums, NGOs, and Japanese companies in Asia and the "Ground Zero" in New York to hear the bereaved families.
Areas of Practice
Concentrated areas of practice:
Death from overwork, or "karoshi"
Suicides due to overwork
Accidents on the jobs
Areas of practice:
General civil cases
General criminal cases
Percentages of the cases we practiced from 1995 to 2005.
*Overworks, accidents on the jobs (37%)
*Testaments and inheritance (14%)
*Family problems (11%)
*Lease of real estate (7%)
*Collection of credit sales (5%)
*Car accidents (5%)
*Criminal cases (5%)
*Education, juvenile crimes (5%)
*Bankruptcy, finance (3%)
*Medical accidents (1%)
1949 Born in Osaka Prefecture
1974 Graduated from the Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo
1975 Passed the national law examination
1978 Registered as a lawyer at the Tokyo Bar Association
1978-1995 Bunkyo Sogo Law Office
1988- Involved in the issue of karoshi (death from overwork) and karoshi-related trials
1992- Lecturer (legal and human rights issues), College of Arts and Sciences,The University of Tokyo
1995- Representative of the Kawahito Law Office
Karoshi International Edition, Madosha, Tokyo,1990
Japanese (titles given in English)
Textbook: Human Rights Today, Nihon Hyoron-sha, 2009
Suicide from Overwork and Corporate Responsibilities, Junposha, 2006
Suicide from Overwork, Iwanami Shinsho, 1998
World Tour on Human Rights, Nihon Hyoronsha, Tokyo, 1997 (editor)
Time Shop, Kodansha, Tokyo, 1995
Modern Society and Tokyo University Students, Kadensha, Tokyo, 1995
English for International Exchanges, Otsuki Shoten, Tokyo, 1993 (coauthor).
Textbook: Human Rights Now, Nihon Hyoronsha, Tokyo,1993 (editor)
Major translations The Working Poor: The Invisible in America (by David Shipler), Iwanami Shoten, 2007
The Working Poor: The Invisible in America (by David Shipler), Iwanami Shoten, 2007
White-collar Sweatshop:The Deterioration of Work and Its Rewards in Corporate America (by Jill Andresky Fraser), Iwanami Shoten, 2003
Contact us to learn more about what our team can do to support you.
If you would like our consultation, please fix an appointment in advance.
Kawahito Law Office
2nd Floor, ICN Building, 2-27-17 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku,
Tokyo 113-0033 Japan