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Vietnamese trainees call out unpaid illegal overtime at Japanese firm

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It's really nothing personal, unfair or racist though, Doan Thi Thu Nga. Japanese companies have been doing this for years to their own countrymen.

Koshimizu Hifukukogyo had been contracted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to make medical gowns

Might wanna check here though. Companies that get such contracts are often well connected to local or national politicians.

-4 ( +20 / -24 )

Just recently the governor of Miyagi Prefecture toured a training facility for aged care workers in Vietnam.

This place was set up to prepare "trainees" to come to Japan and work in the sector.

The Gov was told straight to his face that they didn't want to go to Japan now because of the condition of the Yen.

Stories like the one above will only add to the resistance by them of coming to Japan.

Strong penalties need to be applied to all who mistreat these trainees if Japan wants to attract and retain good workers.

6 ( +23 / -17 )

When they told these trainees to do overwork that means employer give promise that they can pay their debt off in shorter time. Those promise is broken now.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Japan-immigration/About-80-of-Vietnamese-Cambodian-trainees-in-Japan-owe-debt

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

It's really nothing personal, unfair or racist though, Doan Thi Thu Nga. Japanese companies have been doing this for years to their own countrymen.

I agree with the sentiment, but it doesn't make it any more ethically correct. This is a classic narrative of caveat emptor for those looking for work, ie do your own research, there's no worker protection. When did this narrative become the norm?

Sadly, IMHO we the workers are having less and less of a voice, whilst corporations are having more and more sways over politicians who 'were' supposed to represent all people but not seems to only care about political donors.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

A group of Vietnamese technical interns whose former employer failed to pay them a total of 27 million yen for overtime

Gaiatsu?

Imagine if Japan Inc. were forced to return all the stolen wages from their Japanese and foreign staff over the last few decades?

Privileged Japan Inc. investors/ ,'elite' consider themselves entitled to a feudalistic share of the human resource of labor.

-4 ( +18 / -22 )

According to work records from the technical trainees, it was common for them to work in excess of 100 hours in overtime each month, an illegally high amount.

Key words here, "in excess of 100 hours" with 100 hours being legally "o.k." Anything over that is "an illegally high amount". Which to me is asinine in the first place! Roughly 25 hours or more per week, meaning on average 5 hours per day, meaning 13 hours plus per day in the workplace!

State sponsored slave labor at best!

-1 ( +20 / -21 )

They should be learning how to pick rice in their own country. Why come to Japan for that?

-25 ( +7 / -32 )

I agree with the sentiment, but it doesn't make it any more ethically correct.

No, of course, you are right, Sh1mon. I am not trying to say it does, nor engage in whataboutery. I think it is way past time that companies could not get away with their exploitation of workers, no matter where they came from. The fact that they are involved in creating the labour relations architecture, locally and nationally, probably means that things won't change very fast. Sadly, I don't expect the local media to really delve to deeply into the problems either beyond promoting the humble brag that Japanese work too much.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

The LDP took the matter of unpaid, or forced “voluntary” overtime seriously a few years ago. After some expert panels met to discuss the problem, it was decided it was best just to legally increase the number of hours required before it was considered illegal. Doctors and truck drivers for some reason had no limits on overtime. Gotta love the LDP.

-7 ( +10 / -17 )

agree with all posters above. Nothing further to add

-18 ( +7 / -25 )

Since there is mention of illegal conduct/practices, I'm wondering why the article doesn't mention arrests, the police, prosecutors, etc.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

As if we didn’t know and as if the Japanese government care. You could add how ALTs are fired every year, don’t get paid in summer holidays, causing problems for families, don’t get the same benefits as the Japanese staff, and yet seem to work there for years and years. I guess if there is such a thing as white privilege, in Japan is it possible there could be yellow privilege. Do you get a permanent contract? Do you get the same pension rights? Do you get paid the same as Japanese workers ina similar role ? Do you get the same health benefits as the Japanese? did you get fired during Covid, when all the Japanese staff went into work and got a salary ? The gov tacitly and actively accepts it. Same problem but now a different group.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

""Japan established the technical internship program in 1993 to transfer knowledge and skills to developing countries, but the program has been criticized as providing cover for companies to import cheap labor from across Asia.""

""We call it Modern Days Slavery"" Japan has failed miserably when it comes to setting up a system to importing labor, Japanese shady companies and scammers and even gangsters joined the program to take advantage of migrant workers and the government knew it.

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

I do feel sorry for these interns/ trainees. They’re exploited by the Japanese government and their home governments, their companies, as well as being exploited by their families. They remit a considerable chunk of their hard earned money to prop up their oversized families back home. And it doesn’t help them that the yen is on par with the price of toilet paper.

-15 ( +5 / -20 )

The traineeship program seems lose-lose, making both sides unhappy. It should be abolished partially or altogether. I assume it will probably be done so for some designated industries.

There is alternative visa scheme called 特定技能1号 which I think is better than the traineeship. In fact, more than 80 % of the 2nd year trainees have switched to this program.

Cons: You should prove yourself first by passing skill as well as language proficiency exams. The former varies by industry while the latter is usually N4 for JLPT. The scheme designates only the 14 key industries short of workforce, mainly manufactures.

Pros: You can switch jobs on the same visa if there is a problem. Out of the broker control, visa holders can freely and directly apply for a position while the host employers don't have to pay retainer fees to the brokers. You can legally work (paid-) overtime (the traineeship basically prohibits overtime work although there are many violations reported). 特定技能2号 or the upgraded version also allows family residency.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Specifically for prospective caregivers, there are more possibilities than the traineeship and 特定技能 scheme. The best is 介護 visa though it requires 3 year experiences and a license (taken by exam).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I used to think Japan is a country of integrity when I was little. Now that I'm grown up I am sad to see how low class my own country is, leaving those scammy companies in the wild.

-9 ( +12 / -21 )

They should be learning how to pick rice in their own country. Why come to Japan for that?

Good question..

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Sounds like slavery.

-4 ( +14 / -18 )

Vietnamese: We demand to be paid for overtime!

Japanese: Overtime? What’s that?

-5 ( +14 / -19 )

Labor Laws! Are they in place or aren't there any? Seems to be a lot of slaves in Japan right now.

-5 ( +12 / -17 )

"Japan established the technical internship program in 1993 to transfer knowledge and skills to developing countries, but the program has been criticized as providing cover for companies to import cheap labor from across Asia."

The program is known worldwide as a human-labor trafficking program, and former PM Abe never denied that fact. The only plus side is that with more and more cases of abuse coming to light (and there was just the physical abuse case the other day) and Japan becoming third-world, people are realizing they can make more by staying home and not being trafficked into a nightmare here.

This company will declare bankruptcy, not pay the women, and then simply change its name and start again, likely looking for more foreign labor to exploit. The system will protect them 100%. The women will be forced to leave and go home with a very negative opinion of the nation, and while many won't care, that opinion is already being shown on talk shows like Mr. Sunday and more regarding the concern of even young Japanese leaving the nation to live and work abroad because Japan has done too little, too late to protect its workers and to motivate people to come and stay here.

-4 ( +13 / -17 )

Perusing the voting scores, it seems like a few people seem to be in defence of such labour practises in Japan, yet there are no rebuttals in the comments. Can we hear some, please? Don't just downvote.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Japan is an unattractive to work as a foreigner. You will always be treated as an outsider and stereotyped as an unproductive brain.

-3 ( +14 / -17 )

Good lord, is that difficult to pay a honest wage for people making money for you??

In my 1st year in Japan I worked part time for 2 months in the manufacturing industry, kachou approached me to ask if I could work night shift for 1 week and when I asked how much was the night time allowance he smiled nervously like "how the heck does he know these stuff?" and said "kankei nai, kankei nai".

Now imagine what these vultures do to foreigners with 0 knowledge of japanese language and their rights.

0 ( +17 / -17 )

Japan is an unattractive to work as a foreigner. You will always be treated as an outsider and stereotyped as an unproductive brain.

You will always be a foreigner in Japan. But you are incorrect that you will always be treated as an outsider. Acceptance exists in Japan, but you need to learn Japanese, both language and social queues, and implement them. Or, you need to speak Japanese and work in a Japanese company, or join a Japanese team, or find some other group that will take you in, and then speak of you as in-group rather than out-group.

As for the "unproductive brain", sure, many people in Japan will discount you as a foreigner. Unfortunately, that is the truth for foreigners in almost every country on this planet. But, many/more Japanese people will treat you like a human being, and be open to what you are, rather than what you potentially represent. It's unfortunate that the bigoted/discriminatory/racist ones end up taking up the most real-estate in our brains.

10 ( +16 / -6 )

Strong penalties need to be applied to all who mistreat these trainees if Japan wants to attract and retain good workers.

That's the problem, they dont want to "retain" any good workers. They will hire & fire multiple people until they get someone quiet, hard worker and that will gladly accept their pittance for a wage without causing them trouble. Like trying many shoes until you get the one that fits. This is valid for foreigners and japanese too.

Just read my comment above. A company wanted to con me into accepting 1,000yen to work from 11pm-6am.

Problem is, this feels like a small fortune for people coming from Southeast Asia, especially communist Vietnam.

1 ( +13 / -12 )

What a disgrace! Japan business society cries out for help to the international community because of the lack of manpower to keep the economy going and they pull a stunt like this.

-3 ( +10 / -13 )

Seigi

Japan is an unattractive to work as a foreigner. You will always be treated as an outsider and stereotyped as an unproductive brain.

I have enjoyed my 30 years here and have great respect from the people. I have no regrets.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

and stereotyped as an unproductive brain.

Because most foreigners are, sorry to say. Very few smart people come to work in Japan, why would they? You need to learn the language and then pay 50% of your income in tax. Almost nobody comes to Japan if they could go to foreign-friendly places like Singapore, Hong Kong and literally almost everywhere else. Even Korea is more friendly to foreigners.

-15 ( +5 / -20 )

The trainees will receive the minimum wage and are free to return to the motherland when they pay off their debts, so it is not slavery.

If you are not satisfied with your trainee life then you should fly back to your country.

Thats whats we do if you not satisfied on your new job.

-13 ( +0 / -13 )

Because most foreigners are, sorry to say.

If you were that sorry, you probably wouldn't make such a ridiculously bigoted statement against the 99.99% of the world that isn't Japanese.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

 Do you get a permanent contract?

To get a "permanent contract", or hired as a komuin, you have to take Japanese citizenship, as non-Japanese can not be "permanent" employees of the Japanese government, which also includes prefectural, or municipal employees. Keep in mind, part-time employees of any of the above, have the same restrictions, are typically paid a hell of a lot less, and can only work, depending upon the location, for 3 to 5 years, on average.

ALT's were never meant to be "permanent hires" Like it or not, that's a fact!

Do you get the same pension rights? Do you get the same health benefits as the Japanese?

Yes you do. Whether you collect them or not, is another story. Health insurance is the same!

Do you get paid the same as Japanese workers ina similar role ?

Actually you are paid far more than the "regular" Japanese teacher with the same number of years experience. Particularly if you a a "contracted" Japanese teacher and not permanent.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Almost nobody comes to Japan if they could go to foreign-friendly places like Singapore, Hong Kong and literally almost everywhere else. Even Korea is more friendly to foreigners.

Not sure about that buddy. Singapore, maybe.

Now Hong Kong and Korea, pretty much the same as Japan, you as a white man will always get plenty of jealous/envy/double-faced people around you.

It happened to me more than once. Whenever I went to do some task one of these types would come along and try to do exactly the same thing in front of others while saying out loud "負けてたまるか", implicit message it would be a "shame if he loses" to a foreigner. Or when you're talking to a person/group and the envy is just so unbearable the guy will literally come and stand between you and the person/group, while giving you the back. Just so childish and lame you just laugh instead of getting angry. This is what happens to white foreigners alone in the midst. For Vietnamese, they are simply treated like a lower race or something.

3 ( +14 / -11 )

new slavery in other words.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Japan will be in a world of pain, not due to the weak Yen, but also the possibility of Chinese and Vietnamese workers won't come and stay. Both of these workforces are the largest and most competent in Asia. Other people from other Asian countries also don't want to come as well.

Hell, even the Germans start poaching the Vietnamese workforce for themselves. Wages in Germany, even if you work part-time, are comparable to or higher than Japanese oyajis in the office. Not to mention, there is a high chance of getting permanent residency and being treated as equal to Germans in the country.

https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/germany-signs-deal-with-vietnam-to-hire-workers-4535114.html

Unless Japan allows foreign workers to become full-time, treats them as equal to Japanese natives, and have a path toward permanent residency, then Japan won't stand a chance!

Good idea ! We will send the Vietnamese trainees to United States and Europe, since the Western Countries is a paradise for foreigners.

Even Japanese workers want to follow them now, thanks to the weak Yen!

https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/520d526dbeb5d6e43d603aeaac504690aa0fb29c

-14 ( +4 / -18 )

Koshimizu Hifukukogyo

Post his picture on every news channel.

Now he'll declare bankruptcy and no one will be able to touch him. So the most he'll probably get is a slap on the wrist. And his poor slaves will get nothing in return for their labor.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Another Japanese company abusing their foreign staff and treating them like slaves. The employer was also getting a government subsidy for hiring them under the exchange program. Now, he declares bankruptcy and will not have to pay anything. You can be sure he is not broke and has syphoned the funds into an offshore account or to one of his relatives. Another Japanese corporate SNAFU.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

 Do you get a permanent contract? 

To get a "permanent contract", or hired as a komuin, you have to take Japanese citizenship, as non-Japanese can not be "permanent" employees of the Japanese government, which also includes prefectural, or municipal employees. Keep in mind, part-time employees of any of the above, have the same restrictions, are typically paid a hell of a lot less, and can only work, depending upon the location, for 3 to 5 years, on average.

ALT's were never meant to be "permanent hires" Like it or not, that's a fact!

Do you get the same pension rights? Do you get the same health benefits as the Japanese? 

Yes you do. Whether you collect them or not, is another story. Health insurance is the same!

Do you get paid the same as Japanese workers ina similar role ? 

Actually you are paid far more than the "regular" Japanese teacher with the same number of years experience. Particularly if you a a "contracted" Japanese teacher and not permanent.

*0**( +1 / -1 )*

completely untrue. ALTs we’re never meant to be permanent but the job has been around for….. how many years? how many decades? Your right, it’s not permanent, because your fired every few years so you do get the same equal rights. If your meant to be there from the start of work until the end, then that’s the same hours as the other staff.

You do not need to be hired as a komuin. But just need to be hired, as a direct hire. As some already do. If you work there, get paid there, get punished there, the. That’s a job and if the law says we can’t be hired there, then they must be breaking their own law. Also just because it’s the law doesn’t make it just. So it might be legalised discrimination then. Never meant to be be perms but working at schools for 10 to 15 + year “is permanent”. So I respectfully think your wrong, maybe not legally but absolutely morally.

pension is not the same as all the staff employed in the school get the benefit of contributions not just by the teacher but also the employer.

in regards to sickness benefits, how many have been fired for being sick?

also can a Female ALT who is pregnant also receive the same maternity rights, or for male ALTs recurve the same paternity leave? NO! They are fired. Even though they have been working their for many years. So no your uninformed.

You May be paid more per hour but actually you are paid less over all.

you do not get the same pension contribution by the employer,

you do not get sick pay, or salaries pay,

Maybe you support a law that legally did discriminates, but it’s not right, dodging laws, or finding loop holes. We are immigrants and deserve permanent jobs, permanent contracts and the same rights as the Japanese.we have families, Japanese families.immigrants, permanent residents deserve the same contracts as the Japanese.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Japanese citizens also don’t get it. Japanese pay loads of tax, and don’t send all their money back to another country preventing Japan’s economy from not being drained. Why they should get special priority over normal Japanese hard workers?

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Japanese citizens also don’t get it.

Legally they are supposed to. Hourly workers are entitled to overtime by Japanese labor laws.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

RodneyToday  12:32 pm JST

Japanese citizens also don’t get it. Japanese pay loads of tax, and don’t send all their money back to another country preventing Japan’s economy from not being drained. Why they should get special priority over normal Japanese hard workers?

Nobody is saying they should get priority. They should get the same rights and protections.

Are we saying the Japanese should get better work, pay and conditions, than an immigrant, who works hard,( for their money) just the same as the Japanese, PAY loads of tax, just the same as the Japanese. And Frankly what they do with THEIR MONEY is non of your business or mine. They worked for it, and can support their family as they wish. Better than a Japanese guy blowing it on alcohol, pachinko, hostess bars.And sending 10,000.20.000.30,000 yen home is nothing. They spend the rest of their money here in Japan, food, housing, smart phones, clothes, USJ,Disney land, zflights, medical care,bicyles, restaurants. BOOSTING the Japanese economy, because the company employs them, boosting their productivity and profits. You're just spouting an old money trope, that was also used in the UK Brexit debate. Not all Japanese are hard workers either.Most work hard, but not everyone.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

These so called trainees know about this situation yet they go to Japan for this program. Then they whine and whine. If you don’t like the working conditions under this program then don’t go. Stay in your own country or choose another country to work in.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Japanese citizens also don’t get it. Japanese pay loads of tax, and don’t send all their money back to another country preventing Japan’s economy from not being drained. Why they should get special priority over normal Japanese hard workers?

Totally agree with you on this! The tax paying Japanese people and foreigners living in Japan work much harder and contribute more to Japan and don’t complain about it. Just these so called trainees are always whining. Their behavior in trains and on the streets are even worse.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

You have quite an insight into the scenario, Jim. Sympathy is such a weakness, isn't it? Easier to blame the victims.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

My daughter works in Japan, but for an international company. Gets overtime holidays, my wife's company no overtime pay no holidays, Japan style, suffer (you should be thankful for the opportunity to make money for a old man.)It’s just how it works.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Japan needs to stop calling them trainees and tell the truth.

The vast majority are workers for low skilled, low paying jobs that Japanese companies have difficulty finding local workers. Just call them "imported labor" and pay them what was promised in their contract.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Public school ALTs have become low paid slaves as well. Their payment has become hourly on a per class basis. Most public school ALTs are lucky if they can make ¥2 million a year in the job. It's not a livable amount and below the poverty line. The government subsidy means they must change their ALTs every three years or lose their subsidy. When I first came to Japan in the early 2000's public high Jr/Sr school ALTs were getting ¥2.5-¥3 million a year with full salary for vacation periods. I worked mostly in private high schools and colleges. My first contract at a private Jr/Sr high in Tokyo was in 2004. It was a three year contract at ¥4.5 million per year and 20 classes a week. My last private high school contract was in 2019. It was a one year contract at ¥3 million for the year and 30 classes a week. There is no future for for foreigners living in Japan. 90% of the long term foreigners I knew in Japan have left Japan due to becoming a financial prisoner. Foreigners do not get the same rights as Japanese workers but are made to pay the national pension. This is money most will never see again. I paid more than ¥1 million into this scam during my time in Japan. My rebate is only ¥118,000. The set it up so it's nearly impossible to get your money back. You have to be living outside of Japan for one year before you can make a claim to get the money back. However, you have to be in Japan to make the claim. You can not claim from overseas. In my case, it would cost me more to go to Japan to make the claim than the ¥118,000 rebate. I'm sure there are many foreigners who have been scammed by this trap. Japan is not a good place for foreign workers anymore. The economics and prejudices make it a financial trap.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

However, you have to be in Japan to make the claim. You can not claim from overseas. In my case, it would cost me more to go to Japan to make the claim than the ¥118,000 rebate.

Not to mention, if you're American, then you're good coz the Japanese government will transfer the funds directly into US dollars. But if you are from any other country, the Japanese government department will first convert your pension into US dollars. And then, they will convert it from US dollar to whatever currency your country of residency uses. So you'll lose money twice.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You can't COMPARE this to slavery!!! Slaves was "FORCED" to work for no WAGES at all. These trainees got paid for the "SOME" of the work they performed. Please don't confuse the work they done with the word slavery.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Or, Vietnamese women are treated like hookers. My friend works at a “seafood company” in Hiroshima. He said the company only hires Vietnamese women and puts them in a dormitory. The management often “visits” this dormitory after working hours and my friend said if the women complain, they are sent back to Vietnam on “immigration violations”. He said when they come to work, they are often exhausted. Modern day comfort women.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Wage theft most assuredly isn't confined to Japan. FedEx Ground and their many contractors do it on a grand scale. Managers would clock employees out while they were still working so they wouldn't exceed the 6 hour limit for part timers, promising to make it up on the next pay period, but they never did. Part time employees would work 9 or 10 hours in a shift with no breaks and no overtime after 8 hours as required by law. If their time card showed more than six hours payroll would flag it and the manager would hear about it, so their pay was knowingly and deliberately falsified by management. Their drivers are all contractors who are paid on a 1099. But many contractors have multiple routes and hire drivers working for them as subcontractors and they may or may not have taxes withheld. Some are paid cash under the table and nobody is the wiser. As far as FedEx was concerned they are "independent contractors" even though they have to wear a FedEx uniform, answer to FedEx dispatch and have FedEx graphics on their trucks so they can't haul for anyone else. "Independent", yeah, sure.

Restaurant managers routinely steal tips from employees if the tips are placed on a credit card. My wife's old manager at a Denny's did this routinely and my wife was too afraid to complain. A poor soul working alone as a cashier in a gas station will be classified as a "manager" so the the owner can work them 12 hour shifts with no overtime. Mohsen Oil in Oceanside. Nice guy Mr. Mohsen. I could go on.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My understanding of the pension now is ALTs have to pay into it (A lot are not for various reasons). It can be the employee pension where the employers has to pitch in 50 percent of it or the national pension where the employer has to pitch the full 100 percent of the pension. Most ALTs won't be staying here for 40 years so can claim up to 5 years worth after leaving Japan. You'll get most of it back. This is applied for outside of Japan. It's a silly system because most foreigners do not intend to work for 40 years in Japan. It's a silly system if your Australian because you're not obligated to pay into a pension scheme in Australia. So the systems are not the same yet you have to join.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

where the employee has to pitch the full 100 percent of the pension.

Just had to correct that!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Their tough working conditions led them in August to approach a nonprofit organization supporting Vietnamese people in Japan ... Jiho Yoshimizu, a supporter from the NPO, said it will "continue to work to have their human rights protected.

The reason we even get to hear this story about maltreated 11 workers is because of this Japanese NPO.

A little browsing shows that Jiho Yoshimizu is the head of the Japan-Vietnam Coexistence Support Group (JVCSG) which is based in Nissinkutu, a three-floor Buddhist temple in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. There is a little about about it here: [Buddhist Temple in Tokyo Offers Vietnamese Workers Refuge from the Pandemic, by Craig Lewis, buddhistdoor dot net]. It seems that JVCSG does not have it's own web site! Small megaphone but giant heart. The best of Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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