Posted by debito on December 19th, 2007
Hi Blog. Here’s another lawsuit of note (sorry for not seeing it sooner).
Note the errroneous headline. This person is not a Chinese worker. She is a naturalized Japanese citizen, therefore a Japanese. Bishibashi for the copy editor (and the translation is pretty hokey too).
Quick comment follows article.
Hitachi sued by Chinese worker
Japan Today November 27, 2007
Hitachi is being sued for discrimination by a Chinese employee. The case is being watched by many major Japanese manufacturing companies because it’s quite a rare case that discrimination against their foreign workers becomes public.
The plaintiff graduated from a Chinese university and obtained a masters degree at a Japanese university. She joined Hitachi in 1994, and obtained Japanese citizenship during her career there. She is now 58 years old.
According to the plaintiff, after a one-year probation, she was hired by Hitachi and asked to work for a section dealing with China and assigned translation tasks. She was supposed to be given a full-time contract. But because of a working visa problem, she was given the status of a “non-regular staff,” which requires annual renewal of the contract. In April of 2004, Hitachi told her that they would not renew the contract.
In June of 2006, she sued Hitachi, saying, “The one-year contract as a non-regular staff is just an ad hoc measure, and I was virtually working full-time. There is no justification for making me quit.” In her suit, she has requested “confirmation of her rights in the contract,” unpaid salaries and 10 million yen compensation.
Hitachi says that she is just a non-regular worker whose contract had to be renewed annually and that the company let her go because her contract had finished.
However, on Oct 15, the plaintiff invited a former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, Hidenori Sakanaka, who is now a specialist in foreign worker issues in Japan, to court. Sakanaka questioned Hitachi’s appeal, saying, “The plaintiff was given a special status called ‘Specialist in Humanities / International Services.’ This special status is given only to those who work as full-time staff and never given to ‘non-regular staff’ because ‘non-regular staff’ is not a legally recognized labor status.”
A lawyer who specializes in corporate laws says, “It’s actually common for foreign workers to renew their employment contracts every three years in order to renew their visa. I think corporations generally don’t fire their foreign employees who work full-time.”
Hitachi has refused further comments on the case, saying it is still a court matter. However, Sakanaka says the Hitachi case is the tip of the iceberg. Since China is an important market for Japanese companies, labor problems with Chinese employees could become more common from now on, he says. (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)
COMMENT: The thing I don’t get about this article is that the plaintiff got Japanese citizenship while she was working at Hitachi, so why is visa and employment even an issue? Is she a Japanese worker or not? And did her work status not changed when she naturalized? And wow, this case is taking a long time, if she first filed suit in 2006!
Anyway, her case might help bring about some consistancy in the arrayed grey zone between perpetually-renewed contracted NJ and part-time J workers–something employers have been using to keep their staff disposable at will. Arudou Debito in Sapporo