Japan's all-female theater troupe Takarazuka Revue will set up a panel of experts possibly by year-end as it seeks to improve its corporate culture following the death of one of its actresses, a source related to the troupe's parent firm said Monday.

The development came after the troupe found that the 25-year-old actress, suspected of committing suicide, was under a "strong psychological burden" just prior to her death in late September, amid long working hours and scolding by senior members.

Kenshi Koba, chairman of Japan's all-female musical theater company Takarazuka Revue, bows in apology at a press conference in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture in western Japan on Nov. 14, 2023, over the recent death of one of its actresses, who was said to have committed suicide due to overwork and bullying within her troupe. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The envisioned third-party panel will look into the tightness of performance schedules and what could be deemed as excessively demanding coaching, according to the source. The panel is expected to be joined by university professors and experts on harassment issues.

Takarazuka plans to draw up a reform proposal based on interviews with all of its around 400 actresses as well as its about 80 students undergoing training to become performers.

Hankyu Hanshin Holdings Inc., Takarazuka's parent company, decided to seek opinions from the third-party panel to help formulate drastic reform measures, according to the source.

The source, meanwhile, indicated that a reinvestigation into the death of the actress, as requested by a lawyer representing the bereaved family, is unlikely to take place.

The lawyer has said overwork and bullying by senior members of the group led to her death. But Takarazuka, based in Hyogo Prefecture, said it was not able to confirm evidence of bullying or harassment of her when it announced a summary of an investigation report on the case last week.

The report acknowledged the tight schedules and said the overtime the actress had clocked in the last month before her death reached at least 118 hours.

The actress was found dead on the premises of her condominium on the morning of Sept. 30. Hyogo prefectural police believe her death was likely a suicide.

Emergency service in Japan: 119

If you are having suicidal thoughts, help is available.

For Japan, call Yorisoi Hotline at 0120279338 (toll-free). Press 2 after the recorded message for consultation in English, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese, Nepali, or Indonesian. The service in these languages is also available on Facebook messenger.

For those outside Japan, you can find a list of other resources here

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