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Foreign trainees in Japan face exploitation

27 Comments
By MALCOLM FOSTER

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27 Comments
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This just makes me so furious. On one hand we have people like Crystal Takigawa bragging about Japan's endless so-called hospitality, and then we have companies like this.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Reminds me of the "eikaiwa" era in the 80s and 90s, when the Japanese routinely cheated foreigners out of vacation time, overtime, etc., and employed them 29.5 hours a week so that they wouldn't get any benefits. Yokoso!!!

17 ( +21 / -4 )

Employers committing violations such as failing to pay wages

This is the problem. These aren't "violations", they're crimes! If you steal money from someone else then you're a thief, plain and simple. If you keep them somewhere against their will and against the law (e.g. withholding vacation time) then you're a kidnapper, if you don't provide them with medical aid and they get sick then you're guilty of assault.

Until they stop using kid gloves on these criminals there won't be any change. They need to get tough on these crimes.

21 ( +23 / -2 )

I met five Chinese women and a Vietnamese man working as "trainees" when I was a CIR on the JET Programme. Their living conditions were horrible; living in containers (like storage containers) with no running water.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Countries duping poor folks with promises of easy riches only to deliver horrible working conditions for little pay is as old as the hills.

They prey on the 'grass is always greener" idea.

Promise them the moon, loan them some money, and force them to work slave wages for years just to pay it back.

Very common, but very hard to stop, since there's plenty of people, including the average Japanese consumer, that benefit from this kind of exploitation.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Exploitation of foreign ( and domestic ) workers goes on in every country, but the Japanese tendency not to face unpleasant truths never fails to amaze me. @LiveInTokyo Takigawa's appalling performance should have had most people reaching for the sick bucket. It didn't. That's depressing.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

The system was set up for exploitation so it's no surprise that it has persisted for years now. The national government can regulate the hell out of trivial things, but when it comes to important social justice concerns, it turns a blind eye until the rest of the world makes such a fuss it has no choice but to act, and even then rules and laws are not seriously enforced. Of course this occurs in different countries around the world, especially concerning labour exploitation.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japan has a real bad habit of using forced laborers from foreign countries and not paying them. It's been going on since WWII.

4 ( +11 / -6 )

@Jimizo, man do I agree with you!!!! How do you like that guy Shibata?! He cheats and treats the workers badly and then, as I see it, blames them for "all this trouble." That's Japan in a nutshell. Well, there's an old saying where I come from - What you can't hear you will feel - meaning that since you don't want to listen to good advice so you will feel the repercussions later. Mr. Sakanaka is living in reality but the average Japanese is not going to agree with his assessment nor with his immigration target. Japan always wants to learn the hard way and by the time they act it will probably be too late. We all know that "social harmony" goes a long way into solving these kinds of problems, right? Well, once this immigrant's and his significant other's pensions are set, I'll be leaving and your social harmony will get that much more harmonious.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It's not just the small companies that do this. One very large car company based in Aichi offered trainees a 'mechanic' certificate after 2 years of virtual slave labour, and when the intern returned home to South America and tried to get a job with it, he was laughed out of the garage.

Although the living conditions are not as bad as for TCN workers in Qatar or Saudi Arabia, they still face non-payment of wages, numerous deductions for supposed benefits, no health insurance coverage, and completion bonus payments often withheld.

One of their favourite tricks here is to withhold wages until the contract period is up, just paying a small amount for living expenses, supposedly to help them save money; then, just a month before the contract is due to finish, send them home suddenly due to a supposed contract violation or threat of exposure to Immigration, without their retained savings.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

And the article never touched on the female trainees esp Chinese who provide entertainment to some Jfactory leaders leading to fusoko jobs after the trainee tenure. Some are just there as trainee to absorb as much Nihonggo as they can so they'll be able to blend well among the Japanese. Kind of economic spy.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I was once offered a farm job in saitama. The workers were all Asian, and pay was crap. He asked my nationality, then he automatically raised the initial offering wage. I declined the position. There is a huge disconnect between how the Asian gaijin is treated, as opposed to U.S. or Euro types.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

This should be escalated to the International Human Rights Organization as a matter of fact. I already see many valid violations in this post.

International League of Human Rights 352 Seventh Avenue, Suite 1234 New York, NY 10001 Tel: 212-661-0480 Fax: 212-661-0416

4 ( +5 / -1 )

forced to work overtime, being charged exorbitant rents for cramped, poorly insulated housing.

However this is the norm in Japan.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Expose the companies and the Yakuza running it, Japan has its head in the sand over these issues!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Part of the problem is the lack of political discourse. In my own country, which is not immune from similar issues, at least people know about these problems and can use that knowledge to, for example, vote for a party with a tougher stance on the protection of workers rights. In Japan, try raising this issue with your Japanese friends. Since conversations rarely go into any political depth, it is nearly impossible to throw anything like this out there without it being a completely unrelated to the existing conversation, leaving people bemused why you brought it up (and left without friends if you want to continue talking about such topics).

I am not saying that in Western countries we sit around at dinner parties discussing labor law violations all the time. But once in a while, among educated company, such topics come up, people inform each other, and can think about taking some action. The government also knows the people are informed, and this knowledge in itself helps drive political action, as the government knows it cannot be taken seriously by voters if it is perceived to be ignoring serious issues.

As the first posters noted, the media always focuses on (what they believe to be) Japan's unique kindness, politeness, hospitality etc... Yet when concrete evidence to the contrary emerges, there is no coverage or interest and the mighty gap between "image" and "reality" can be preserved.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's a shame when workers are treated like crap. I'm speaking from experience gained when I was younger, and I sure as hell don't like to see it happen to anybody, anywhere.

Unfortunately there will always be employers who see their staff as disposable drones. Exposure is the key to bringing these creeps down.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This issue is irrelevant to Japanese law or the societal thought process in Japan. It is clearly a crime worth prosecuting and that doesn`t seem to happen. Now there is this story out in the open and most likely there will be no change.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

These "employers" sound like something out of a fictional novel... How can they treat other human beings like slaves and even "withhold" their wages ? Are we back in the dark ages ?

(There seems to be a little discrepancy in Wnag's age... Under the photo it says "31", in the article it says "25"...)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@pointofview "This issue is irrelevant to Japanese law or the societal thought process in Japan. It is clearly a crime worth prosecuting and that doesn`t seem to happen".

Isn't this contradictory? In any society, the kind of crimes that are prosecuted vigorously and those which are not are very much determined by the law and the society's collective conscience. Or did you mean to write "relevant" rather than "irrelevant"?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"In a phone interview, Shibata said he withheld 50,000 yen every month"

For what? Rent? why would an employer need to withhold any money at all?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@jpn-guy,

I mean irrelevant as these problems are well known yet these thugs commiting the crimes arent sought out and punished. So if the law just turns a blind eye then these issues dont seem to have any priority.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Foreign trainees in Japan face exploitation

Yes, we all know. But when will it change?

Ans: when Japan stops looking down on other Asians, and when the Yakuza are no longer in control.

( = never )

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It's sad that in Japan people are still being exploited. Japan has had numerous Human rights violations, yet things change slowly in Japan. This indeed has been going on since world war two

yet the history books are tailored to be one sided and the exploitation is alive and well in the land of the overworked and overexploited.

Mina San Gambatte Kudasai!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

yet the history books are tailored to be one sided and the exploitation is alive and well in the land of the overworked and overexploited.

This has absolutely nothing to do with history books. The fact is most of the first world builds, manufactures, harvests, etc on the backs of people from developing countries and does so on the cheap. This is the reason illegal stays are ignored or not really investigated in these industries. In many ways, it works in the favor of the 'host' country and the worker. The country gets cheap labor and the workers get better pay than they would back home even if it is less than the citizens of that country. At least, that is when the workers are not abused, physically or otherwise.

This, however, is a completely different kettle of fish:

Japanese government backing of the training program he would enter the country under helped ease worries about going abroad.

This is a government sponsored program and the government is implicated in any wrong doing. Not only are these not 'violations', as was mentioned above, but these are crimes on a governmental scale. I for one do not want my tax money going for a program that lies and steals from people from developing countries. This should be a story with legs, but I get the feeling we will not see much come of it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

taiko666Nov. 25, 2013 - 06:28PM JST

Foreign trainees in Japan face exploitation

Yes, we all know. But when will it change?

Ans: when Japan stops looking down on other Asians, and when the Yakuza are no longer in control.

( = never )

You are not very clear what you are saying, but from what you have written I may be able to interpret as follows;

Japanese business owners are still discriminating you including other Asians and Yakuza are still taking advantage of "Foreign Trainees" program. You are very pessimistic about your future as Yakuza is still controlling your working condition and pay, right?

If answer is YES, then you need to make a change. Nobody will do this for you. It starts from filling a complaint to Ministry of Japan Labor Department in writing and one copy goes to the International Human Rights Violation Organization as I listed above. You need to start doing all necessary documentations (pay stub, working hrs, and etc) from today. Good luck.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

bring them to justice! make a lesson for others to send the message that abuse will not be tolerated! pay fairly!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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