Following Overworked Employee’s Suicide, Dentsu Names New CEO and Cuts Execs’ Pay

Toshihiro Yamamoto takes helm amid investigation

Dentsu has named Toshihiro Yamamoto as its new CEO following the announcement that Tadashi Ishii would be stepping down from the position.

Yamamoto previously held the role of senior vice president of Dentsu, but will now take over the top position on the heels of a turbulent 2016 for Dentsu.

In December 2015 a 24-year-old Dentsu employee committed suicide. It was later determined that the young account manager, Matsuri Takahashi, took her own life because of a culture of "overwork" at the company.

Ishii, who headed up the network for more than five years, announced his resignation in late December following the young woman's death and reports that Japan's labor ministry had referred Ishii and the Dentsu network to federal prosecutors. In early November, Japanese Labor Ministry officials reportedly raided Dentsu offices as part of the investigation into the death. 

At the time of Ishii's resignation, the Japan Times quoted him as saying: "I feel deep responsibility as a person overseeing management of the company. I will take full responsibility and will step down at a board meeting in January."

As Yamamoto plans to step into this new role, amid challenging times for the holding company, he noted in a statement: "My mission is to re-establish trust in Dentsu in Japan, and build a sustainable growth path for the long term. I believe it will become a reality with the improvements we are making to create a more flexible working environment where our diverse talents will thrive to help creative value for our clients and professional fulfillment for our people."

Yamamoto joined the network in 1981 and will begin his new role as president and CEO on Jan. 23.

Alongside the news of a new CEO, the Japanese Times reported Dentsu also plans to cut the pay of a number of its executives, including Dentsu senior evp Shoichi Nakamoto, an unnamed svp and three other executives. Each employee will see a 20 percent pay cut for three months, beginning in January. The cuts for these executives, whom the Japanese Times described as Takahashi's "superiors," are tied directly to her death.

Additionally, Dentsu announced two other job elevations today. Current senior evp and CFO Shoichi Nakamoto will take on the position of representative director, senior evp and CFO, while current director and evp Yoshio Takada was named a representative director and evp.