The New National Stadium, the main stadium of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Photo: REUTERS file
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Report reveals alleged labor issues at 2020 Tokyo Olympic building sites

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The construction industry here has a rather dark side to it, as day-laborers are treated like guano, and as noted here have little recourse to vent their grievances.

Even sadder is that the government is complicit and fully aware of the problems but all the government cares about is getting everything finished and screw the consequences. I would not be one bit surprised to not see any of this on the news, or if anything just given a passing comment, and the Abe government making some type of statement, "praising the hard work of the Japanese workers" (if anything at all) and will address the issue.....AFTER everything is completed!

24 ( +25 / -1 )

Overwork, low pay, duplicity and ill treatment-welcome to Japan!

23 ( +24 / -1 )

The construction industry here has a rather dark side to it, as day-laborers are treated like guano, and as noted here have little recourse to vent their grievances.

> Even sadder is that the government is complicit and fully aware of the problems but all the government cares about is getting everything finished and screw the consequences. I would not be one bit surprised to not see any of this on the news, or if anything just given a passing comment, and the Abe government making some type of statement, "praising the hard work of the Japanese workers" (if anything at all) and will address the issue.....AFTER everything is completed!

I worked in demolition and as a truck driver here before, and I agree with everything Yubaru said.

Overwork, low pay, duplicity and ill treatment-welcome to Japan!

Pretty much summed it up. And its not just the construction workers. Like you said, welcome to Japan

22 ( +22 / -0 )

From personal experience of working in the construction industry and coming from a family of builders, the standards in the UK and other countries isn't that much better than here in Japan and remaines decisive and one of the most dangerous industries to work in.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Investigative journalism is seriously lacking in this country well the media here will voluntarily refrain from revealing any material that paints the country in a negative light internationally.

It would be interesting to know how much the construction charge per worker and how much reaches the worker after passing through myriad of intermidiary. Companies are using the labour shortage as an excuse to make tremendous profits

Won't be surprised that the government or tokyo is charged about 8,000yen per hour per head using the labour shortage excuse that labor cost has gone up but the worker doing the job gets 1500per hour.

The bereaucrats know the reality but will do nothing to address the ongoing because they care more about their amakudari destination.

Nothing will be done.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Japanese tradespeople like carpenters, electricians, plumbers, gas fitters, can all earn good money and while many work directly for building companies, there are also the self employed. Learning a trade is a good alternative to going to university.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Won't be surprised that the government or tokyo is charged about 8,000yen per hour per head using the labour shortage excuse that labor cost has gone up but the worker doing the job gets 1500per hour.

When I drove a truck I made around 1500 per hour. However, 1500 per hour is extremely optimistic for construction. I remember one demolition company paid me 8000 yen per day. working from 7-7. The jobs may vary along with their pay, but by and large, blue collar work in Japan is absolutely awful. That's before you start talking about the racism and power harassement foreigners experience in it. Its really awful.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Welcome to the real Japan...

Samurai spirit (as if it is supposed to be a good thing), ninja and unicorns don't actually exist.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

after several "alarming" alleged labor violations were uncovered.

What?? No way!! In Japan? Really? I mean.....is anyone surprised?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

So, just a bunch of demands but no penalties or real consequences. Yeah, I'm sure that'll fix the problem!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

ongoing reconstruction efforts in Fukushima.

Fukushima?

The tsunami hit hard and deep into areas in Miyagi and Iwate. Lots of reconstruction still underway. Not all in Fukushima. Not mainly in Fukushima. Not even largely in Fukushima.

Who wrote this?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Not quite sure how an individual's experience in Ottawa relates to systemic flouting of labour laws in Japan? Working 28 eight days straight in a physical capacity can only lead to health issues and accidents. Where is the Department of Labour and industry? Trying their hardest not to get involved would be my guess.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Learning a trade is a good alternative to going to university.

in some countries they earn more than many University graduates, my friend runs a roof tiling business, its hot in summer and can be a little dangerous , work is difficult, but he can clear about 2K a week doing it.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Learning a trade is a good alternative to going to university.

It really is. My mechanic, plumber, and builder mates are earning far more than many, if not all, of my fellow social science graduates, that's for sure. Speaking for myself only, I wish I'd done a trade.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

overworked and underpaid with no grievance process in Japan?!?! Noooooooooooo waaaaaaaaay

6 ( +6 / -0 )

My first trade was electrician and earned me big money even when I was young. Became an artist but when I needed big money fast I went back to it for awhile. My old dad, who was a first class cabinet maker said to me "son never sell your tools, that's your emergency bank".

Working outside on sites is hard but then so is farming and many other jobs. Never take short cuts with safety. The construction workers I know here, work 6 days a week but usually finish around 6pm and if it rains they are sent home. They all earn good money have two cars and usually two or three kids.

But there always the exploited day laborers just as in other countries too. Foreigners building the stadiums for the next World Cup for example.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I worked many a hard job in Japan, worked over a 160 hours overtime in a month, 30 odd days with out a day off, was cheated out of pay, and hurt my back beyond repair. I blamed everyone and everything for all of that, but in the end I finally figured out that I was 100% at fault. No one says you can not quit, because you can! You may say it is not that easy, yes it is! You walk in, say I quit, and go home and look for another job, things may be tough for a while, but you will survive! Stop being a victim of your own choices and blaming others! Start the thumbs down.....now!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

In Japan in 2017, there were 323 deaths in construction, with the highest number of fatalities in the over 50 and over 60 age groups. The Japan Industrial Safety and Health Association's latest data is from 2010, showing how seriously they take the issue!

Exactly the same with FIFA in Qatar for the soccer world cup, though there are many more deaths reported there. According to a report published by the International Trades Union Confederation (ITUC) approximately 1200 workers have already died since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010.

To put that number in perspective the ITUC also revealed the amount of workers killed in the lead up to other major sporting events around the world.

The next highest number of deaths were from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics with 60 people killed and the 2004 Athens Olympics with 40 killed.

Ten workers died before the 2010 Beijing Olympics and seven were killed while working in construction for the 2014 Brazil World Cup.

There were zero construction fatalities for the 2012 London Olympics and one death for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The ITUC predicts that there will be at least 4000 worker fatalities by the time the 2022 FIFA World Cup begins.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Middleoftheroad

You walk in, say I quit, and go home and look for another job, things may be tough for a while, but you will survive!

There's a lot of truth to your post, but the above does not apply in every situation. You can tender your resignation or give notice, sure, but simply walk in, quit and go home? That could be a breach of contract, for example.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

1000 yen per hour ?

Billions of (make) immigrants would be happy to work in the construction industry as described...many here are living proofs of this situation, especially Middleoftheroad or Aly The Rustom

That is why expect no change, in particular in Japan.

I worked hard also in the construction industry in France, then quite indirectly in Japan but earning good money with (huge) benefits. I would never have accepted otherwise to just please Japan because of agenda targets.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am not surprised at all,Many Japanese companies are well known for underpaying and take as much advantage as possible from their employees.

I remember in Kyoto that I saw some language schools that were hiring part time teachers for a miserable wage of 1.000 yen per month.

So this kind of news it's not a real surprise,but I also believe that things will never change unless the media will really take such kind of abuse seriously and talk about it publicly.

No wonder that this country is the one with the lowest GDP ranking within the G7 besides Italy.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Pardon me,I have to correct myself 1.000 Yen x hour

2 ( +2 / -0 )

a "culture of fear"

There was definitely a culture of fear at one Japanese company I worked for.

Among the findings, one case at the National Stadium was highlighted for being particularly grievous.

The report cited a complaint about a worker's injury being rejected because it had been brought by the union and not the injured party.

Good grief. Damn these inflexible rules/policies. It really is cruelty.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

No one could have predicted that the country of forced unpaid overtime, toothless labor regulators, complicit politicians, frequent work place suicide, and personnel dispatch companies permanently creaming off more than their half workers' salaries for doing exactly nothing would also be the country of terrible conditions for Olympic construction workers.

(with apologies to@itsJeffTiedrich)

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Labour violations are being committed every day in Japan in a range of different industries.

Unfortunately there’s little appetite for meaningful change / implementing the rules properly - and there’s also little sign of people standing up for themselves and demanding working conditions improve or meet the legal guidelines.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Pardon me,I have to correct myself 1.000 Yen x hour

ONLY because there is some poor person out there willing to take the job. They can offer all they want, high or low, but they are confident that someone will come, and they dont care about the quality, just the body.

If no one applies, they will learn, and be forced to raise the pay.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As usual, many of the commentators here are making claims about Japan without offering proof or hard data comparing Japan with other countries. Opinion is not proof. Assertion is not proof.

As someone who grew up in the construction industry and started working as soon as I could get a work permit (age 14 in Illinois at that time), I know from personal experience that construction work is dangerous. Pay varies enormously depending on whether you have a skill and a license or whether you just do gofer (pick and place) work.

Japan is not an exception to this pattern.  

Working long hours and consecutive days may be a sign of exploitation. It may also be something you want to do because construction work is both seasonal and cyclical. You pack in as many days and hours as you can when the weather is good and the jobs are there because there will be periods when there are no jobs or days when you cannot work because of the weather or because another contractor is running behind.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

overwork, in the construction industry? no way!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@RiskyMosaic

True, but the type of jobs we are talking about don't really have contracts, and I will admit I have had jobs where I needed to give a 2 week or more notice, but all you have to do is threaten to go to the authorities and they will almost always let you go on the spot.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Construction is very heavy physical work and not all are capable of doing it. We always tried to work a 7 day week while the work is there.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think the construction world have to change their mentality. Taking advantage of people in need of a job is not a good way to treat human beings.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Apparently the third biggest economy in the world? Due mostly to low pay, "voluntary over work" labor laws that aren't in anyway enforced, complete disregard of Heath and safety, a ministry that being The Department of Labour and Industry having no powers and a strong inclination to side with the company's anyway, coupled with labour unions that tow the company's and government line. And a work force trained from an early age to somehow believe it's a Nobel thing to suffer personally for their employer. And when someone does ask for their rights to be adhered to...paperwork, rules and flat out indignation from their employers stifle any attempt to gain a monicommon of anything near what the laws state. Apparently the pool of labour is shrinking yet nothing approaching a fair or equatable balance between workers and employers is even mooted. Not just construction but across the board. Although the delivery company that raised wages back paid owed wages and reconfigured it's Rosta to give more time off is a shining example among the the soul destroying expectation of the majority.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yeah I totally agree with Yubaru. They will pay to English teachers 1000¥ / h just because they know they will find someone. All that newcomers needs to work somewhere!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Middleoftheroad

Absolutely. I've walked out of awful jobs under, shall we say, 'casual' arrangements and never looked back, and have also had to fulfill a contract, or obligatory term of notice at others. Granted, there are fewer physical and mental risks to sweating out a contract behind a desk or a restaurant's grill-top. I appreciate your response.

As for the article, well, construction is a tough, hard industry everywhere, I imagine. Japan is no different. I hope these labourers rights are protected going forward.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How about going on strike? downing tools for a while? this might improve things, if they won't change, pack up your tools and move on.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Is anyone surprised? I'm just waiting for some posters to get offended by this report and claim Japan's a victim here.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

bullfighter: "As usual, many of the commentators here are making claims about Japan without offering proof or hard data comparing Japan with other countries. Opinion is not proof. Assertion is not proof."

Ah, but you've got proof to the contrary, while posters point out Japan has a long history of lying about conditions to sub-sub-sub contracted companies. Heck, they only BARELY admitted recently to a death at the tsunami hit nuclear plant, where they have no idea what is going on.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I personally know many tradespeople who work the construction industry. Most are well paid when compared to other workers like office workers, which just isn't suitable for everyone. They all work directly for a major company or they make their own self employment.

There is a shortage of skilled workers, following the Tohoku disasters and others and the Olympic building work. Some companies are willing to pay a bit more to secure workers.

I have worked construction in the UK, Canada, Italy, France.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Olympic construction has caused a serious shortage of some building supplies like bolts used in the construction of houses.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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