Japan’s Takarazuka to set up expert panel to improve culture

Japan’s Takarazuka to set up expert panel to improve culture

OSAKA (Kyodo) — 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 company 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.

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 it’s about 80 students undergoing training to become performers.

Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, 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.

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