Japan Today

Students complain of being exploited in part-time jobs, survey shows


A survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare regarding "black baito," referring to part-time jobs in which students are forced to work in conditions that violate labor laws or are exploited, shows that approximately half of the respondents have had bad experiences.

The survey was answered online by 1,000 students aged 18 to 25 from the end of August to September this year, Fuji TV reported. The students who answered work part-time at convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants and bars. The results showed that 60.5% of all the respondents said they have had trouble with their work conditions.

Complaints included not getting paid for preparation and cleaning time, not being given any break time, being made to work more days each week than agreed to and not being able to take days off when having exams.

Based on the results, the labor ministry said it will make a request to the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations that "study comes first" for students.

The term “black baito” (“baito” or “arubaito” which means part-time work) is a derivative of another coined term, “black kigyo,” which refers to companies that are lax with regard to labor laws and practically treat employees like slaves.

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Based on the results, the labor ministry said it will make a request to the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations that “study comes first” for students.

How about tightening the law, or couldn't the ministry be arsed?

17 ( +19 / -2 )

The problem is that these young employees are too afraid to question these conditions and practices. And if they do, they will be bullied by managers and even fellow coworkers at their workplaces.

The so-called "wa" (harmony) prohibits individuality. Even when black kigyo conditions apply.

Lord forbid you are the "nail sticking up" here, there, or even in the large corporations fueling Japan Inc.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

The students might as well get used to it. It seems working adults are not treated much better.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

The same sort of exploitative practices are routinely used to keep adult part-timers in line. Why wouldn't the same tactics be used on younger employees as well? The same also holds true for those in full-time employment who are not compensated for overtime - a form of wage theft. One reason Japan's productivity features consistently fall behind those of other OECD countries is the number of hours worked - even when the figures are massively under-reported. People are seriously disaffected - how is someone who experiences exploitation at hsi or her first job going to form a positive impression of work?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Having three university students in the family (luckily all tough enough to look after themselves), I have to admit that I have heard some horrific stories second-hand. From what my boys have told me, there are some particularly nasty companies out there. The non-payment of wages, mandatory fines and outright violence are all par for the course. Moreover, female students and those living away from home seem to be particularly at risk. To their credit, however, some folks are not taking this lying down.

"Most Japanese students don't study?" - Show me the data for this?

12 ( +14 / -2 )


That may or may not be the case but is that any reason to accept working conditions that were not agreed upon? Normalization part of the issue here as some have mentioned. Maintaining this concept of wa/harmony and the nail that sticks out way of thinking is only compounding the problem.

It only adds more reason to having proper worker unions to protect people working in any industry where work conditions may be out of line.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

labor ministry said it will make a request to the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations that “study comes first” for students

I think they've gravely missed the mark with this quote here, in fact this remark from the labour ministry is actually harmful as it implicitly discriminates against students. What a dismal place it would be to get by as a student here..

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Grow some balls people!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

All this "black" this and "black" that, as if these practices were extremely rare. Just call them companies. Employees in Japan are exploited all over the place, so it's no surprise this is happening to students in part-time jobs as well. That's Japan, Inc. all over. The company comes first. You don't figure at all. The government will make a few suggestions here and there-- stop the unpaid overtime, make your employees take their vacation time, give them a raise-- but the one that sticks? The one where people can dispense with wearing ties in the summer. Because the company doesn't have to run the A/C so much and can squeeze out a few yen in profit from saving while you sweat.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I agree with anotherexpat about "wage theft" , but would go a little further and call it simply theft. Always strikes me that most people would never dream of going into a shop and stealing something, but are quite prepared to suffer financial loss, and worst, theft of their own time.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I keep reading that there is a labour shortage, so why don't these students just walk out and get a job somewhere else? It would also help if the companies were named and fined, but that hardly ever seems to happen.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

PT workers and low skilled get such a raw deal in Japan. Time they introduced a proper living wage system here.

3 ( +4 / -1 )


4 ( +6 / -2 )

said it will make a request to the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations that “study comes first” for students.

Make a request? How about give an order, instead? Typical lip-service to a problem

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Are these 25 year old students finishing a 3 year master degrees and now working on a PhD.?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Isn't it time for students to realise that study should come first? This seems to be the problem.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Post-graduates are also exploited. They get a new job that forces them to work late at night and weekends. They never know when they can get out. They've no vacation or a chance to develop personal relationships. Japan is a pretty unhealthy work environment generally. It prevents social progress.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So the answer from the labor ministry is to black kigyou is "let's a make a REQUEST that study comes first?" What a joke.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Not only in Japan does this abuse of student and other low paid workers occur. In Australia and elsewhere Seven Eleven store franchisees have been found to be doing this with alleged indifference from the company's head office. In the past MacDonalds have been alleged to be low-paying too. Unless the lowest payable wage is fixed by the government and then reinforced by them fining and making the guilty companies pay recompense, it will continue to happen.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Finally these things are coming out in the open. I'ts not just students who are suffering as many people who have lost jobs in the past are forced to in the same system. These people do not want part time jobs, they want more secure jobs. One thing is for certain, there are not enough decent jobs available.

I know people who have to work at 3 jobs, 7 days a week to pay all their bills working on a miserable hourly wage. They also get robbed by having to set up in preparation and closing down for work up to half an hour each day without pay. Take that over a month and it soon adds up. I know people who are on the minimum wage who are doing the type of work that is usual for someone on a salary. Very experienced people.

Japan has second to last lowest minimum wage of OECD countries surveyed. Other countries with good wage also fund pensions and public hospitals out of the tax take. Their consumption type tax is higher, but income tax is lower. Add to that, food prices etc. are half or more than of Japan.

I don't understand, surely the government should increase the minimum wage whereby they would reap more tax and people might even be able to pay in to the archaic pension collection system. I can remember it was not so long ago that the government raised the hourly rate by something like 4 yen an hour. What an insult.Overseas people are under impression that Japan is a great place where all citizens are well off. It took me quite a few years in Japan to find out the real truth how many Japanese suffer the dismal living conditions and poverty in this country.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Not getting paid for preparation time is standard behavior in the free lance English teaching community.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

The reason these kids don't speak out is because they will just get fired on the spot and the bastards will keep their pay! I teach in a college and hear many horror stories from the students about their bosses and what they have to do to keep their jobs. Most of the horror stories come from izakayas (Japanese pub restaurants). The kids are told to come an hour early to set tables, which they don't get paid for. They are also told to stay an hour late to clean tables, which they do t get paid for. I've also heard many stories of power harassment and sexual harassment. I've told the kids to speak out, but they all are too afraid to say anything because they will get fired on the spot! Abe's recent changes to the labor laws only make it easier for these slave-labor merchants to hire and fire part-time workers and treat them like dirt! However, I'm not saying all are like this. I've also heard some very good stories about employers that give kids time off for studies and also pass on bonuses for for work. It's mainly the large chain izakayas that burn through these kids like cheap socks.

However, on the other hand, I also know a lot of these kids are lazy brain-dead zombies that wouldn't work in an iron lung and expect to be paid for doing nothing. I guess there are two sides to the story, but that is no excuse to slaverise and abuse these kids.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The wages and conditions of employees in Japan are disgraceful rigt across the board, as is the lack of accountability when employers break the law, the lack of observance of leglly-mandated holiday provision, the pressure to go to work even when sick, the flagrant pressure not to take maternity leave.....the list just goes on.

The problem is that the business structure is still feudal. Employees are viewed as serfs. They are not respected; managers think they are there to be used and abused any old how. Power and control are the priority, even of that means using employees inefficiently and counterproductively. You have to jump when your boss says "jump", just to affirm your devotedness to the system, even if it's for no reason.

Exhausted, poorly-nourished, lonely, unsatisfied workers are no good for an economy. When will managers learn that and stop treating businesses as a way of inflating their own egos by lording it over their staff?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is the first step. The younger generation is better suited to deal with this problem then their parents, but they need help and guidance.

Information exchange, they all pretty much use line, and twitter, could be a huge tool used to out these company's and businesses that have these practices. If the students have the information, there is no need to apply!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Glad I didn't grow up here, once again the govt CLEARLY DOES NOT care about the people of Japan, in this case students, utterly disgusting.

I want to read about companies being FINED, audited, back wages PAID, interest on these unpaid wages PAID!!!

But alas we will hear nothing of the sort, just a few empty stupidly worded blurbs from absolute morons who are running this place into the ground!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I hear about "powerhara" all the time from my adult students. I say they deserve it if they can't stand up for themselves. It's time J.people grow a pair and push back. Especially part-timers. What part time job pays enough that people put up with harassment?

The moment I get lip from anyone I push back, I don't care who it is. Workplace issues lead directly to domestic abuse when people suffering from stress and harassment at work take it back home and lash out at the family. I say lash out at the people who give you stress. You want the bully stop bullying you , punch him in the face, bullying will stop pretty soon.

Why would people go to work an hour early and stay an hour late UNPAID?! It just show you how much of a sheep a lot of the J. peps are.

Also, where are the parents? If my daughter ever comes home and tells me about sexual harassment at her workplace I am there the same day and it will not be pretty.

And violence at work???!!! Can you imagine your manager hitting you at your workplace in a Western country?? Unbelievable.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )


Pushing back & fighting for whats right would be great IF the govt ENFORCED labour laws but they pretty much never do & the salarymen & OLs KNOW this, they have very little power.

And surely you have heard about what happens to the nail that sticks up!

If the govt wont fine companies & FIX all this BS your average man/woman on the streets is own their own & they can enjoy articles about black companies etc, meanwhile get ZERO help, THAT is how Japan "works"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All the people I know of and socialize with working in Izakaya etc. have no problems at all. Are posters actually talking to people, or just postulating?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

My u seem to speak to the wrong people.

Most complain about low salaries, no mdical, no pension and zero guarantee they will have a job in the morning.**

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan is a non working ultra liberal country.

The only ultra liberal country in the world were you have some degree of success of turning wealthy out of a 1 dollar sh%t job, is the USA. . . . . japan has the same low payed jobs, but offers no real liberal options for workers to progress liberal through a shifting economy.

The "Arbaito" thing is a cheap way to offer tremendous amount of servce in japan, which needs overstaffing and very low pay.

850Yen/hour is the lowest pay in japan, there has been lower thought . . . which means no heatlh insurance, no pension, nothing . . . . equal low salaries exist in europe too, however do you get full health insurance +pension.

Basicly in most modern european countries the lowest payed person has the same health insurance then the best payed, no 2 class society.

The US manages through agressive liberal policies to enable thoses who fight hard to have the prospect of earning well, even if 50% of the population is poor . . . . japan has the problem to not offer universal health insurance, nor a liberal oportunity systhem to succeed .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

kakikaki - I agree to most of what you said but Japan offers universal health insurance to everybody, at least Kokumin Hoken, with which you pay 30% of medical cost at hospitals..

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Its not just the part time workers at all- full time workers and even contract workers suffer from this. This is a Japan problem.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Someday we ought to have a protest.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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