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Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

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  • (Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield 2015)

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  • Mainichi: Chinese trainees file complaint with labor bureau over 350 yen per hour overtime

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on October 30th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

    Hi Blog.  Coming on the heels of news two months ago, of GOJ reports of record numbers of labor violations and NJ Trainee deaths from overwork, here we have Nj fighting back regarding overtime.  Unpaid or underpaid, that is.  Which has been happening for decades now, since the “Trainee” and “Researcher” came online almost twenty years ago.  It’s just going to keep happening until the GOJ finally enforces its already weak labor laws, and these workers fight back through unions and courts to claim what’s rightfully theirs — minimum standards for work and pay.  Bonne chance.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


    Chinese trainees file complaint with labor bureau over 350 yen per hour overtime

    (Mainichi Japan) October 27, 2009, Courtesy of JK

    Chinese trainees, including the five who filed a complaint with the Shimabara Labor Standards Inspection Office, attend a rally calling for better working conditions. (Mainichi)

    Chinese trainees, including the five who filed a complaint with the Shimabara Labor Standards Inspection Office, attend a rally calling for better working conditions. (Mainichi)

    SHIMABARA, Nagasaki — Five Chinese trainees at an underwear manufacturer here have filed a complaint with the local labor bureau claiming they were forced to work overtime for just 350-400 yen per hour.

    “We came to Japan with hope, but we are not treated like human beings,” the five women stated. “One other trainee complained that our wages were low and was sent back to China. We want to work in Japan for three years under reasonable conditions.”

    The complaint, filed on Oct. 21, also claims that the women had their break times deducted for washroom visits, and the Shimabara Labor Standards Inspection Office has launched an investigation into the company for possible violations of the Labor Standards Act.

    “The labor bureau is conducting an inquiry, so I cannot comment,” said the 62-year-old company president.

    The five women, aged 21 to 27, arrived in Japan between December 2006 and December 2007 under the Industrial Training and Technical Internship Program, administered by the governmental Japan International Training Cooperation Organization.

    According to the complaint and other sources, the women each worked as many as 209 overtime hours per month, and about 2,000 hours per year. The 350-400 yen per hour the women claim they were paid for that overtime falls short of Nagasaki Prefecture’s minimum wage of 629 yen per hour, and well below the standard set by the Labor Standards Act, which requires employers to pay 1.25-1.6 times the regular wage for overtime.

    The women claim that during busy periods they each worked from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m., and sometimes did not have a single day off per month. They apparently signed a contract paying them a monthly salary based on the minimum wage, but that excluded provisions for overtime. Working an average of 173 hours per month at the minimum wage would equal a monthly paycheck of about 110,000 yen.

    However, the women claim that the company told them their pay was being directly deposited in their bank accounts and did not show them the payment details. Furthermore, the company held both the women’s bankbooks and passports. The company president also apparently checked the clock whenever one of the women went to the washroom and deducted that time from their breaks.

    A person who knew of the women’s working conditions reported the company to the Kumamoto Prefecture branch of the Zenroren union, which passed on the report to the Nagasaki branch. The five women enrolled in the Nagasaki branch, and began collective bargaining with the company. That resulted in the return of their bankbooks, but apparently no progress was made on the wage issue.

    In response to growing criticism from experts on the rising number of foreign worker exploitation cases, the central government amended the Immigration Control and Refugee Act in July. The changes will go into effect in July 2010, and the government continues to review the system.


    中国人研修:時給350円、トイレ分は休憩減 5女性申告
    毎日新聞 2009年10月27日











    12 Responses to “Mainichi: Chinese trainees file complaint with labor bureau over 350 yen per hour overtime”

    1. crustpunker Says:

      “Abuse of power comes as no surprise”
      This quote seems quite apt for this case.

      Some others that might be relative to this and other topics that have been discussed on Debito.

      I do enjoy coming to this site as it gives me a sense of being part of a small group that share many similarities here in Japan but man, sometimes the weight of all the injustice, oppression and unfairness that I read about here along with the feeling of being powerless to do anything about it is kind of hard to bear.

      Isn’t there anything positive going on?

      — Sure. I even created a special category for it. Good News. Click here.

    2. Lance Says:

      Some of the treatment Ive received over here is nothing in comparision to what Chinese and other Asians get. I got into an arguement with a counselor down at Hello Work about racism and she says, oh what about the blacks in the U.S.? I said, I dont see any blacks or whites working at hello work. Every job she would call for me, the answer was always moshiwake arimasen, gaijin dame. I think Japan got a ways to go before it start pointing fingers at the U.S.

    3. Justin Says:

      She’s giving you crap about racism in America? Tell her President Obama is working on it.

    4. Lance Says:

      Actually she mentioned Obama, and kept saying I should be very very proud of my president and support him, you know talking in the parental way and all that. Just because she supports him dont mean I have to. Obama or political choices has nothing to do with me looking for a job. Some of them people down at hello work are just straight up rude, and dumb to boot.

    5. adamw Says:


      you need to make a formal complaint about her and your treatment

    6. E.P.Lowe Says:

      “Furthermore, the company held both the women’s bankbooks and passports”

      This could easily be interpreted as theft – taking other people’s property.

    7. Bob Says:

      ‘Every job she would call for me, the answer was always moshiwake arimasen, gaijin dame’

      You should be suing for discrimination. Nothing is going to change here if we don’t follow these cases through to there logical conclusion as Debito has done.

    8. Lance Says:

      Good luck with a lawsuit for hellowork. Foriegner after foriegner cycled through those counselors and they would give the same answer. I remember one lady introducing me to a moving company, only latter to get rejected. Reason? They worried what the client might think of a gaijin face. The counselor gave me this with a smirk on her face. I dont like those people, but what can you do?

    9. Lance Says:

      Id just like to add this also. I guess she thought I was complaining too much and she told me if I had it so bad I should go back to my country. She had lived in the U.S. and I told her if a person in a professional situation said the same thing to her over there, there would be all kinds of legal issues. I told her I hear that all the time, but even if I did go back to the U.S., the average wait time for a job is probally 6 months.

    10. Bob Says:

      ‘Good luck with a lawsuit for hellowork’
      Hellowork is not to blame. I mean sue the companies themselves. A lawsuit is a way to bring these injustices to light, just like the Chinese trainees in this story are doing. If you shrug your shoulders and do nothing, nothing will change. Bring these companies into the public light and show them up for what they are, through the law or the media.

    11. Manule Says:

      The problem is that there is not a tangible inmigration policy in this country so we are considered temporary visitors only, you can complain, shout or argue and is not going to help a bit, there is not a real legal frame courtesy of the idotic LDP attitute against inmigration.

    12. 英雄 Says:

      I’m sure Japan will have plenty to complain about when it comes time for China to hold the reins in Asia.

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