A Japanese court has reportedly ordered the government to pay compensation for a Toyota worker's death from overwork.

An Associated Press report says that a court in central Japan ordered the government to pay compensation to a woman who argued that her husband died from overwork at a Toyota plant.

Hiroko Uchino filed the suit after a local Labor Ministry office rejected applications for workers' compensation benefits she filed after the death of her husband, Kenichi.

The Labor Ministry office said the case did not qualify as death from overwork, according to the plaintiff's lawyer.

In Friday's ruling, the Nagoya District Court ordered the government to reverse the local office's decision and pay compensation, court official Chie Hara reportedly said.

As a middle-manager in charge of quality control at a Toyota factory in Toyota City, Kenichi Uchino had been putting in long hours before he collapsed at work and died in February 2002 at age 30, according to the report.

He had worked more than 80 hours of overtime per month for at least six months before his death, and in the month before his death put in 114 hours of overtime, the plaintiff's lawyer said.

Death from overwork, known as "karoshi" in Japanese, has steadily increased since the government first recognised it in 1987.

The government acknowledged 147 cases of death from overwork from 303 applications in the year ending in March 2007, according to ministry figures.

Toyota, which was not involved in the suit, said the company was not in a position to comment, AP said.