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Foreign interns being used in quake-hit Kumamoto reconstruction work

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"It is difficult to know the actual working conditions of the trainees and trainees cannot easily raise their voices," said Shinichiro Nakashima

No it's not. You need to have your labor and or immigration regulators get off their butts and visit the work sites.

A man who runs a construction company in the hardest-hit town of Mashiki said he was surprised to find local subcontractors using so many foreign workers

Oh, and shifting the blame to a subcontractor? Classic move there

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

expatAug. 19  12:25 pm JST

Back to the 1930's...are any of these latter-day laborers Koreans toiling in the mines?

I trust you are aware of the disproportionate number of Zainichi Koreans involved in the Yakuza. And I trust you are aware of the extent of Yakuza involvement in the Japanese construction industry. This is the 21st century not the 1930s.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

KabukiloverAug. 19  08:25 am JST

Is this slave labor? If not it is likely something close to it.

No it's not slave labor, But it is typical of the difficult and unfair conditions that migrant workers from other countries face all over the world.

This raises the question of whether Japan has really changed all that much in the postwar era.

No it doesn't. During WWII POWs and Koreans (who were not foreign at the time) were forced to work under programs existing under a military dictatorship. Foreign workers today are in Japan by choice and can quit and leave if they so wished.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

talaraedokko: "In all my cynicism I’ll say these workers will come out ahead, and the workers will bitch a bit and move on. Sorry."

You obviously don't know much about things, then. Slave owners said the same thing about their slaves, at best, and even some posters on here make similar claims about sex slaves (aka "comfort women"). Disillusioned is correct, it's the business owners and the slavers -- and that's what the trainee program is! -- who make out like bandits. In many instances these so-called "interns" leave IN DEBT if they are allowed to leave at all. Sub-contracts, whom no one seems to be resonsible for, will promise money and experience, and make them do jobs they did not apply for, deducting room and board (well above the norm), often cram people in a room together, and then deduct everything else they can think of. When they can't pay it off, they are forced to work more, or else they leave with a pittance. There is a reason Japan is the worst nation in Asia and one of the worst in the world for labor and sex trafficking, friend.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

@talaraedokko - In all my cynicism I’ll say these workers will come out ahead, and the workers will bitch a bit and move on. Sorry.

Actually, it will be there employers who come out ahead. The interns will be paid their basic salary and the employers will be pocketing any danger money or extra benefits. The example in the article is perfectly shows the type of exploitation being put onto these workers. He was ordered to do work which was not part of his contract and then had over ¥600,000 in overtime payments withheld for refusing to do the work.

This system of trainees is not set up to make them rich. They are paid minimum wage with all the deductions of Japanese residents, health insurance, ward tax, pension, etc. They would be lucky to be taking home a grand a month to pay their rent and live on. Which is worse? Working for nothing or not working at all?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Well, the government will continue to turn a blind eye to these problems as long as these violations are producing something the nation needs. Foreign governments are seeing their children paid, probably better than in their own country. In the long run these young will pick up a skill or two they are not able to get back home. All in all it’s a winning situation. It’s not what was promised? It is shady, for sure.

In all my cynicism I’ll say these workers will come out ahead, and the workers will bitch a bit and move on. Sorry.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Kick Japan out of the UN or WTO because of their exploitation and human rights violations.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I said just yesterday this trai we program is actually a government approved labor trafficking scheme, and here is yet another example. Japan has been approached about this by Human Rights Watch, the UN, and other groups, but the government doesn’t care, and people who hear foreign NPos and rights groups are concerned are more worried and paranoid about some fake attack on their national character than the slavery of others. And it’s not just foreigners, many Japanese are ring forced into this kind of thing, too, after being promised skills, lucrative opportunities, etc.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

The headline only needs to go this far, “Foreign interns being used”

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Back to the 1930's...are any of these latter-day laborers Koreans toiling in the mines?

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

@MikeH

No they don't know that detail, before coming to Japan they might know location and which sector they'll work like construction, farm, fisheries etc. In their home countries, actual intern condition almost unheard. They have no clue what they'll face in detail until they are really working there like work in weekend, no overtime getting paid, need to clean up hazardous power plant etc.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

So they are not trained, but building infrastructure in country that regularly has major earthquakes?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Why can't the government actually do something about this? Same stories every month!?

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Demolition is very labour-intensive now because of the gomi-separating rules. You need a much bigger crew than in the past.

Any building in Kumamoto that is "han-kai" (literally half-destroyed but more realistically, a bit compromised but the owner wants rid) or worse will have its demolition fully funded by the national government. So if people are being mistreated, the government could refuse to fund the private contractors organizing the work. It also means that many locals with an old house that's a bit damaged but eminently savable will push for the "han-kai" rating so they can have it knocked down and cleaned up for free. Even a small house can cost 1.5-2 million yen when you are paying.

My main point though is that if you pay taxes in Japan, you are paying for this.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Japan’s job training program is designed for desperate foreigners from undeveloped Asian countries. They will be used in these kinds of work every now and then. Actually, they already know this but are desperate to earn cash. Of course, it’s not good to exploit these workers but truth be told they are totally aware of what type of work they will be doing in Japan. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Japan authorities but also on these foreigners who sign up for these programs to work as slaves!

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

exploitation of workers, slave labour, through dozens of sub contractors.... a part of their UNESCO heritage?

7 ( +17 / -10 )

Is this slave labor? If not it is likely something close to it.

Quote: “”It is difficult to know the actual working conditions of the trainees and trainees cannot easily raise their voices," said Shinichiro Nakashima, who heads a Kumamoto-based support group for foreign residents of Japan, indicating that the government should keep close tabs on the issue."

This raises the question of whether Japan has really changed all that much in the postwar era.

8 ( +16 / -8 )

"... with the aim of transferring skills to developing countries." What that really means is "...with the aim of exploiting desperate foreigners and saving ourselves a lot of money."

14 ( +18 / -4 )

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