Hello Blog. Interesting article on how Japan’s factories’ abusive practices towards foreign “trainee” workers are coming to light. (I have another article on this subject on this blog at http://www.debito.org/?p=105)
In this case, a Muslim trainee worker has had to sign a “seiyakusho” (a written oath, mildly translated in the article as merely a “note”) promising not only to not pray on the premises or engage in Ramadan fasts, but also not ride in a car, use a cellphone, wire money home, or stay out past 9PM. These are all violations of Japanese labor laws, not to mention international covenants as mentioned in the article below.
The GOJ has already taken some measures (such as practically abolishing the “Entertainer Visa”, used for the sex trades) to abolish some forms of slavery (not an exaggeration, see http://www.debito.org/japantimes110706.html) in Japan. Now let’s see if the government can hold more employers accountable for these emerging abuses, which they probably couldn’t foist on Japanese workers. Debito in Sapporo
Factory denies Muslim basic human rights
The Yomiuri Shimbun Dec 5, 2006
Original Japanese article at very bottom of this blog entry, courtesy Dave Spector
A sewing factory in eastern Japan required an Indonesian Muslim trainee to sign a note promising to forgo praying five times a day and Ramadan fasting as a condition of her employment, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Monday.
The firm also prohibited her from owning a cell phone and exchanging letters.
The Justice Ministry suspect the firm’s practice infringes on the woman’s human rights in violation of its guidelines for accepting trainees, which is based on the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
According to the note written both in Japanese and Indonesian, the factory prohibited the woman from worshipping on the firm’s property and fasting while in Japan.
She was also prohibited from exchanging letters domestically, sending money to her family or traveling in vehicles.
In addition, she had a curfew of 9 p.m. at her dormitory and was not allowed to invite friends there.
According to the Advocacy Network for Foreign Trainees, a Tokyo-based support group, the factory asked the woman, who is in her 20s, to sign the note when she came to Japan three years ago.
Although she was not notified about the conditions until she was asked to sign the note, she had no choice but to sign since she had paid a lot of money to come to Japan.
About 10 Indonesian trainees are reportedly working at the plant.
Based on the Koran, Muslims pray five times a day facing Mecca, the Islamic holy place in Saudi Arabia, and refrain from eating, drinking and smoking from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, which is in September in the Muslim calender.
The woman trainee told the network that she was not allowed to worship even during breaks, and that the other trainees at her factory also signed similar promissory notes.
“The prohibitions were likely enforced in the service of two aims: raising worker efficiency and prevent them from escaping,” a person in the network said.
According to the ministry’s guidelines, firms that infringe on the human rights of foreign trainees will be banned from accepting trainees.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee freedom of religion and expression, and freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.
Amnesty International Japan criticized the factory’s lack of knowledge on human rights issues and said it was a prime example of the problems with the central government’s foreign trainee program.
Of about 83,000 foreign trainees who came to the nation last year, about 4,800 were Indonesians. In Indonesia, 87 percent of the population is Muslim.
(Yomiuri Shinbun Dec. 5, 2006)
Original Japanese article
（読売新聞） – 12月4日17時24分更新