The recent suicide of an actress from Japan's all-female musical theater company Takarazuka Revue was due to overworking and bullying by senior members that "compromised her mental and physical health," her family's lawyer said Friday.
Hiroshi Kawahito, a lawyer representing the bereaved family of the 25-year-old actress, said at a press conference in Tokyo that they are demanding an apology and compensation from the company, highlighting the "severity of the loss of a promising young woman's life."
According to Kawahito, the actress was in her seventh year with the group based in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, and belonged to the Cosmos troupe at the time of her death.
After becoming one of the coordinators for junior members last April, she was tasked with acting direction and costume preparation on top of her regular duties.
In August and September, she was made to work without any days off for around one and a half months, getting only around three hours of sleep on many days, according to Kawahito.
Two years earlier, she suffered burns when a senior member pressed a hair iron against her forehead, an allegation the company denied when it was reported in a weekly magazine this February.
The mental distress began to take a toll on the actress' health, and she was often blamed by senior members during rehearsals for all the mistakes of junior members.
The company "turned a blind eye while subjecting (the actress) to abnormal, excessively long working hours, leaving her extremely fatigued," her family said in a statement, demanding that the company, along with the perpetrators, acknowledge their responsibility and apologize.
The actress was found dead on the premises of her condominium on the morning of Sept. 30 in a suspected suicide, according to police.
The group has set up an outside probe team, comprising mainly lawyers, to investigate the circumstances surrounding her death.
A spokesperson for the company said Friday it was taking the matter seriously and "would handle it with sincerity based on the findings of the investigation."
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