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  • Mainichi & Asahi: “4 arrested for helping Cambodian men work illegally”. Odd, given shysterism of Trainee Visa program

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on October 21st, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  Three articles here describing police actually arresting people (Japanese employers, too) for NJ employment visa violations.  Interesting, given all the shysterism that goes on under the Trainee Visa etc. programs that necessitate civil (not criminal) court cases for redress, and involve few arrests.  I guess it’s more important to employ people on proper visas than to employ them humanely.  Get the visa right, and you can do whatever you want to your NJ workers.  Perhaps that’s precisely what the Trainee Visa was designed to enable:  Cheap exploitable NJ labor for companies in trouble.

    Read on.  Comment from submitter follows.


    4 arrested for helping Cambodian men illegally work at supermarket
    (Mainichi Japan) October 18, 2010, Courtesy of JK

    FUKUOKA — The president of an information technology (IT)-related company and three others were arrested on Oct. 18 for helping three Cambodian men come to Japan under the guise of IT engineers and illegally work at a supermarket, police said.

    Arrested for violating the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law were Lim Wee Yee, 39, president of the IT company in Iizuka who is a Malaysian national; Takashi Miyazaki, 40, president of the Kurume Chimakiya supermarket chain; his younger brother and board member Yoji Miyazaki, 36; and Masaru Sakai, 30, the operator of another supermarket.

    The elder Miyazaki has admitted to the allegations while the three others have denied any wrongdoing, according to investigators.

    The Fukuoka Regional Immigration Bureau is considering deporting the three Cambodian men.

    The four suspects conspired to help the three Cambodian men aged 24 to 27 come to Japan in early December last year on special work visas by disguising them as IT engineers at Lim’s company, and illegally work at Kurume Chimakiya supermarket, prefectural police allege.

    The bearers of special work visas for IT engineers can stay and work in Japan for up to five years while those holding ordinary work visas can work here for only three years.

    When they were secondary school students, the three Cambodian men got acquainted with Sakai, who was teaching Japanese in Cambodia as a volunteer, sources involved in the investigation said.

    In summer last year, shortly before they graduated from university, Sakai approached them again and solicited them to work at a supermarket in Japan, according to the sources.

    Fukuoka Prefectural Police investigators suspect that Sakai mediated between Lim and the elder Miyazaki.


    Submitter JK notes:
    My take is that Mr. Sakai had a genuine interest in these guys as human
    beings when he met them in Cambodia, and wasn’t merely looking for some
    foreign labor to exploit (otherwise why take on the risk and hassle, and
    why deny the allegations 「不法就労させていた認識はない」?).

    Now it would have been nice if there was some actual investigation into
    Mr. Sakai’s motives (read: human element in reporting). Instead we’re
    left with another story about how The Man is cracking down on illegals.


    Original Japanese:

    不法就労助長:容疑のIT会社社長らを逮捕 福岡県警など
    毎日新聞 2010年10月18日









    Asahi: IT技術者で来日、スーパーで働かせ月給5万円 福岡
    朝日新聞 2010年10月19日, Courtesy of DC









    5 Responses to “Mainichi & Asahi: “4 arrested for helping Cambodian men work illegally”. Odd, given shysterism of Trainee Visa program”

    1. Tony D Says:

      Of all things, a supermarket?! Is Japan’s population problem so bad that there aren’t enough pimply-faced teenagers willing to work for minimum wage?!

    2. Rachel Says:

      “Now it would have been nice if there was some actual investigation into Mr. Sakai’s motives (read: human element in reporting).”

      This is how the media works, sadly. The general public would probably be less interested in the ‘human element’, as you put it, but they want to know that they’re being protected from those pesky damn foreigners who come to Japan and steal jobs (please note, I’m being ironic here). Also note the phrase “Sakai approached them again and solicited them to work at a supermarket in Japan” which makes Sakai look like the shady character here.

    3. Jeff Korpa Says:

      Hi Debito:

      Looks like my initial assumptions about Mr. Sakai were grossly misplaced :

      Diary entries reveal harsh treatment of Cambodians in illegal work case

      IT不法就労:技術者名目のカンボジア人 過酷労働と差別、日記に

      Apparently he was merely looking for some cheap, exploitable foreign labor after all. Sheesh!

      At any rate, it was nice to see the initial story followed up with some more background. -JK

      — Thanks for updating. Good that there was media follow-up. I hope the police throw the book at the employers for all the harsh treatment, not just for misrepresenting their employees’ work status to the authorities.


      Diary entries reveal harsh treatment of Cambodians in illegal work case
      (Mainichi Japan) October 19, 2010

      Diary entries of three Cambodian men found working at a supermarket in Fukuoka Prefecture in a suspected violation of immigration laws have unveiled their bitter experiences in Japan, including discriminatory treatment.

      The men were found working at the supermarket in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, after coming to Japan under the guise of IT engineers. Police have arrested four people including the president of an IT company on suspicion of violating the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law by aiding them.

      An Aug. 14 entry in the diary of one of the Cambodian men, a 27-year-old, indicated the three were not given the same treatment as other workers.

      “Today is an Obon holiday. We three are the only ones working. Why do the Japanese get time off and the Cambodians have to work?” The following day he wrote, “We are all humans aren’t we? Coming to Japan is like a bad dream.”

      The three workers had to stuff vegetables into bags and sort them in the storeroom of the Kurume Chimakiya supermarket. They dubbed their workplace “the vegetable factory.” At first they were told that they could start stocking shelves and working the cash registers after a month, but their work in the “factory” continued. After being told that they could move to the store if their kanji skills improved, they bought children’s kanji drills and started studying, but they saw no change in their positions.

      “It’s cold. There are a lot of goods today. I’m tired from morning to night,” another diary entry dated Feb. 18 read. “It’s 12:20 at night. We’ve finished. I’m tired. I’m going to sleep.” Sometimes the workers arrived home after 1 a.m. and fell asleep without having a shower.

      All of the other staff members doing the same job, including students from China, were foreign part-timers. But only the three Cambodian workers were without time cards. They said that when they asked their boss about it they were told, “Cambodians and Japanese are different. If you want to be accepted, work three times harder.”

      On one occasion, they called for an improvement in their conditions, reminding supermarket operator Masaru Sakai and IT company president Lim Wee, who arranged for them to come to Japan, that in Cambodia they were told they would be working just eight hours a day. Sakai, whom they had adored as their Japanese teacher while they were in Cambodia, told them, “If you can’t handle it, go home.” They realized for the first time that they had been deceived.

      The three were also insulted by their Japanese boss, who reportedly told them, “Even Japanese children answer questions. Why don’t you answer? Are you animals?”

      The discrimination and disparagement they faced as Cambodians finally left them wanting to return to Cambodia.

      “We will become mentally ill if things go on like this,” one of the three wrote.
      (Mainichi Japan) October 19, 2010

      IT不法就労:技術者名目のカンボジア人 過酷労働と差別、日記に
      毎日新聞 2010年10月19日 西部朝刊


       「今日はお盆休み。私たち3人だけ働く。何で日本人は休み、カンボジア人は働く?」。27歳男性は8月14日の日記に書いた。翌15日には「私たちも同じ人間ですよ? 日本に来るのは悪い夢ですね」。













    4. David Chart Says:

      The last paragraph of the “解説” in the Japanese version of the article is very interesting, and missing from the English version. The main body of the kaisetsu says that the GoJ is dismally failing to monitor foreign labour.

      “The supermarket chain where the three Cambodians worked advertised its “low, low prices”. Behind that was the suffering of these three, working for low wages. Many foreign labourers are already supporting the lifestyles of the Japanese. As long as no organisation to defend the rights of labourers without regard to nationality is formed, there will be no end to incidents where foreigners are seen as nothing more than low-cost labour.”

      Mainichi’s take on the lesson to be learned here is, I think, a good one.

      What the stories haven’t yet touched on is what has happened to the three Cambodians. I rather hope that they haven’t also been arrested for visa violations.

    5. David in Fukuoka Says:

      Just to mention that the Malaysian individual named, Lim, is a well known face in the Fukuoka IT community, and everyone is shocked he got caught up in this mess. Apart from the fact he is a super nice guy, it makes no sense that he intentionally aided this horrible situation. We don’t know the full story, but we can only assume he was used by Mr. Sakai as a way to get the long-term IT visas for the Cambodians. It makes no sense why Lim would risk his successful company and family life here to traffic in cheap labor for one supermarket.

      However, I’m heartened to see the press has come down more on Mr. Sakai and the Japanese who were more directly involved rather than the ‘other foreigner’ involved. I hope he is vindicated soon and gets out of Japan’s legal “process” (neverending interrogations, etc.) without too much hardship.

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