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Japan should ban confiscation of foreign employees' passports, lawyer says

39 Comments
By Sakura Murakami

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Japan should ban confiscation of foreign employees' passports, lawyer says

Japan should ban companies to make workers do unpaid overtime work, Japan should let lawyer present during interrogations etc.

26 ( +27 / -1 )

Anyone living in Japan with the opportunity to meet Asian foreigners know that they are treated badly!

Confiscating passports is the tip of the iceberg...

25 ( +26 / -1 )

The fact that this is even an issue is quite scary.

23 ( +23 / -0 )

It is illegal in Japan for companies to confiscate the passports of technical trainees under a special intern program, but there is no law forbidding firms from taking the passports of foreign laborers in Japan under other visa schemes.

There is a government guideline advising against the confiscation of passports but it is not legally binding.

So it's illegal to confiscate them, but not illegal because there is no law and only a guideline?

So which is it? Just another head-scratching, teeth-sucking, what the ....... moments here!

22 ( +23 / -1 )

File under “Things you would have assumed were already illegal but aren’t”.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

Why do they have guidelines for laws? Make laws so people need to follow, not ifs maybes and perhaps how people could or could not act. Plainly idiotic.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

It is illegal to do so in other countries. Foreigners without sufficient ID or resident status are 'supposed to' carry their passports at all times. If an employer confiscates a foreign employee's passport it amounts to being held hostage. Sound familiar? Hmmm?

16 ( +17 / -1 )

I remember a Philippina working a snack bar back in the 90s and she told me she was only allowed one day off a month.

I asked her why she didn't just get a job at another bar and she told me her employer had her passport and she wouldn't get it back for 3 months.

As soon as she stepped off the plane her boss took her and all the other girls' passports.

They really are being held hostage.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

There is a government guideline advising against the confiscation of passports but it is not legally binding.

Yup. Typical Japan.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

All I can add for US passport holders is read your passport regarding surrendering it to a foreign country. Unless the foreign country is an authorized representative of the United States Government they have no legal recourse as the US passport is the PROPERTY of the UNITED STATES government and only surrendered upon by demand by such authorized representative of the US Government. Very doubtful if companies qualify or have been granted this status. Key word is "authorized representative".

12 ( +12 / -0 )

This is something you'd expect from Middle Eastern countries and the disgusting way they treat workers from South-East Asia. But if Japan wants to be put in the same category, then so be it.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

there is no law forbidding firms from taking the passports of foreign laborers in Japan

this is pure blackmail to keep the foreigner under-control .

Hostage work!!!!!!

11 ( +12 / -1 )

another example of japans barbaric injustice system.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Seems like common sense. Why would an employer have the right to confiscate an employee's passport?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

My hunch is she found another employer offering a higher pay so she wants her docs and passports which is unfair to her sponsor/employer. 

Let's say your hunch is right. How different is it for her, than anyone else living here? She is the "owner" of the visa, and as long as she follows appropriate procedures, there is nothing illegal about her changing positions.

By your logic ANY person who quits a position to take another one, with higher pay, is being "unfair"!

That is ludicrous!

10 ( +10 / -0 )

The FACT that Japan has to consider making a LAW for this shows how completely idiotic & backwards they are.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

It's already illegal. Travel docs belong to the country that issues them, not to the bearer. Taking someone's passport is theft of government property.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Japanese people in general have a rather lax attitude towards visible minorities' personal information and documentation... hotels need to stop copying passports (even the Canadian government warns against letting it happen) for one. Even the other day a subcontractor for my university emailed all the direct hire staff asking for copies of their visas with no instructions about how to protect the information, they were expecting people to just casually send them scans when it should have gone directly to the university

8 ( +8 / -0 )

PURE EVIL!

Name & shame these companies I say!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

It's a minefield designed to exploit foreigners and Japanese workers.

Foreigners and non SOFA family members are already required to register as an alien. Tourists must carry passport at all times.

The need to hold passport is both confusing and restricting, but serves no real national security purpises.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Hostage Labor

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Already illegal! The owner of the passport is the country that issued it.... why are we discussing this?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The employer does not have a right over the passport nor the visa.

Both belong to the passport holder and anybody saying other wise is either ignorant or a liar.

Its a pity such practices are still allowed, resulting in exploitation of the employees!!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Foreigners and non SOFA family members are already required to register as an alien. Tourists must carry passport at all times.

Guess what, this is pretty much the same thing world over! Why try to make it seem "special" here?

It's a minefield designed to exploit foreigners and Japanese workers.

How in the world does this exploit JAPANESE workers?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

A passport is the property of the government of the country it represents.  You'd think Japan knows and respects that - well, surprise!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I don't really understand this whole "we keep hold of your passport, so you cannot leave"-scheme. (Just like I did not understand it in Ghosn case). Its just a short trip to the embassy of your home country "I do not have my passport, please give me a new one".

Even if you are not eligible for a new passport (for example if you are accused of a major crime in your home country) the embassy will supply you with temporary travel documents that will allow you to travel home.

There is exactly one reason your passport is checked by an airline when leaving: The airline is forced to transport you back if you are denied entry (they will hold you liable for the costs afterwards, but even if you do not have any money on you, they are forced to transport you back). If the country you are traveling to guarantees you entry by other means (for example through the embassy), there is no need for a passport!

Holding a person hostage in a foreign country just by confiscating their passport technically just does not work!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Companies have no legal authority to hold anyone's passport.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So another "law" with no penalty for infraction. No Japan MUST ban the practice NOT should ban. And there MUST be prison terms for those breaking the law. Passports belong to nation of issuance and these nations should be looking to take Japan before the proper authorities.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bonded labor

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder if this kind of information is available to those being surveyed when doing the best countries lists.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So how does one get back into their country if they pull a Ghosn? Immigration checks the departing stamp when coming in. hmmm.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Shoichi Ibusuki, the plaintiff's lawyer is correct. Japan needs to make it an enforcable law with high penalties. Passports and Immigration documents are not property that can or should be held by anyone other than the bearer, law enforcement under certain circumstances, Japanese Immigration during visa applications and adjustments, or an authorized representative of the issuing country. Companies which engage in this behavior are a small minority of Japanese companies so comments criticizing all Japanese companies in general are stupid.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Illegal in my country of citizenship and as someone has pointed out the writing in the US passport is quite clear about this. Although the Embassy avoids involvement in internal legal affairs of other countries this is a case they would take up. I’m not sure about other countries (just don’t know). it’s just wrong on all accounts. What if someone had to return in the event of an emergency?

Barbaric practice

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Korean employers confiscated foreign employees when they accepted the job in Korea. However, most of the foreign workers went to their Embassy and asked for help. The Embassy issue new Passport, not a travel document. They do not need to go to the Police and declare lost of Passport.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Guess what, this is pretty much the same thing world over! Why try to make it seem "special" here?

How did you read that? I simply said measures are already in place to identify alien workers.

BTW, Alien registration in Japan and some other countries, and having to carry and employ an ARC to 'live' is manifestly more onerous than simply having to obtain a work visa in the majority of advanced economy countries.

How in the world does this exploit JAPANESE workers?

Seriously? Working conditions affecting parts of the labour pool not affecting other workers in the national labour force? What world are you living on?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 My hunch is she found another employer offering a higher pay so she wants her docs and passports which is unfair to her sponsor/employer.

why is it unfair, theyre her property not the companies, its a supposed free market , talented workers are in demand, if companies wont offer good wages and conditions to talented workers then they will go to companies that will, in a competitive free market companies have to compete on price and services for their products just like they have to on their staff. Companies that hold a persons passport , documents are effectively holding a ransom on these worker heads. You will work for us at our price and you cant be taken by another company aka slave worker

0 ( +0 / -0 )

japanese companies are still in medival times. Where they think the world is slave to them because they have money.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The lady said she's standing up for other foreign workers but wanted her name private. It sounds dubious. The moment she filed a complaint her identity won't be that private anymore. When she resigned and she's opting to go back to PI, surely her docs would be returned to her. That is she would be tagging her employer/sponsor up to the immigration gate of the airport making sure that she really is boarding her flight. My hunch is she found another employer offering a higher pay so she wants her docs and passports which is unfair to her sponsor/employer. Besides if she really wants to jump to another employer, she could have just return to PI and from there process another set of papers for another employer. She wants to rock the boat to her advantage. In a way similar to the Cordero's.

-21 ( +3 / -24 )

They should verified Chinese, Vietnamese, cause these people are doing illegal businesses here. Mostly!

-30 ( +3 / -33 )

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