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Cops: Japanese officer stabs self to get a break

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Japanese policeman distraught by working long hours and weekends for two months stabbed himself in the stomach with a knife to get some time off, police said Monday.

The 44-year-old officer knifed himself at his home in northwestern Japan on May 23, but told police he had been attacked, prompting an attempted murder investigation, Ishikawa prefecture police said in a statement.

Investigators became suspicious of his story after they could not find evidence of anyone who matched the description the officer had given of the supposed attacker, a police spokesman said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

Suspicions also were raised because the officer had waited about an hour before reporting the alleged attack, the spokesman said. His wounds were not life-threatening.

The officer, whose name was not released by police, had been in charge of a disaster relief detail following a March 25 earthquake in the area that killed one person, injured more than 300 and damaged or destroyed more than 14,800 homes.

"He became very busy, he felt like he couldn't handle the work he had to do, and he felt the work was weighing him down," said the police spokesman.

The officer acknowledged he had stabbed himself following his May 31 release from the hospital, the spokesman said. The case is now being investigated as filing a false report, a misdemeanor.

Japanese workers often face long overtime hours and weekends with little or no compensation and frequently must make long commutes to work. Death from overwork, known as "karoshi," has steadily increased since the Health Ministry first recognized the phenomenon in 1987.