Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win ¥17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”


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Hi Blog.  Here’s some more good news.  After a nasty dispute some moons ago involving Chinese “Trainees” that ended up with a court ruling in their favor (the inspiration for the movie SOUR STRAWBERRIES), here we have another one that holds not their client, but also their pimp accountable.  Good.  Pity it the system as designed means it has to come to this, but I’m glad to see it happening.  Arudou Debito in Edmonton


The Japan Times Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010
Foreigners win ¥17 million for trainee abuses

KUMAMOTO (Kyodo) The Kumamoto District Court awarded more than ¥17 million in damages Friday to four Chinese interns who were forced to work long hours for low wages in Kumamoto Prefecture.

The court ordered that the union Plaspa Apparel, which arranged the trainee work for the four, to pay ¥4.4 million and that the actual employer, a sewing agency, pay ¥12.8 million in unpaid wages.

It is the first ruling that held a job broker for foreign trainees liable for their hardships, according to lawyers representing the four interns.

The four female Chinese trainees, aged 22 to 25, engaged in sewing from early morning to late evening with only two or three days off a month after arriving in Japan in 2006, according to the court.



中国人実習生「過酷労働」 業者らに賃金など支払い命令

朝日新聞 2010年1月29日





6 comments on “Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win ¥17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”

  • Excellent news. A similar case in Shimabara (Nagasaki Prefecture). A court hearing took place on October 25, 2009. Not heard anything since. Anyway, here is the story. Read below.
    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.

  • great the japanese court system finally did something right for a change. maybe just maybe 2010 will be a better year now wont it?

  • I wonder if the documentary “Sour Strawberries” played any role in the court’s thinking? I remember there was the scene with the Chinese trainees who were greatly taken advantage of, and then were subject to an attempt at being forcibly removed from Japan when the head of the “program” they were training in didn’t want them around.

    It could also be the new opening up to the other countries of Asia by Minshuto, or a concern about what happens with Chinese relations when America leaves.

    — Or it could just be they got lucky with a nonbigoted judge. Either way, good news.

  • In another bit of news, a Japanese man was acquitted in court, based upon the DVD of his interrogation being used by his defence laywer to show that his confession was signed under duress.


    Man acquitted of arson-murder after DVD of interrogation used in his defense

    OSAKA — A man tried for a fatal arson attack on an apartment building in Osaka was acquitted by a Japanese court Tuesday following a trial in which a DVD recording of his interrogation was the main piece of evidence used in his defense.

    The Osaka District Court returned a not guilty verdict on Osamu Oike, 61, who had been indicted over a May 2007 fire that killed three people in the city in western Japan, stating that the confession he made during the police investigation is not credible.

    Judge Hiroyuki Nakagawa said of the DVD that it showed Oike trying to deny the accusation, only for his attempts to dry up as the questioning wore on. Oike eventually admitted in the recording that he was responsible for the fire and later signed a confession.

    However, Oike testified in his trial that he did not remember whether he caused the fire.

    Nakagawa said in the ruling that it is possible that Oike was eventually forced into making a confession, as had been the interrogator’s goal all along, and also cited a psychological evaluation that showed Oike has a strong tendency to accommodate the opinions of others in an effort to build up good personal relationships.

    The judge added that circumstantial evidence suggests that anyone could have entered the apartment building at the time of the fire, meaning that Oike was not necessarily the only suspect in the case.

    The DVD was adopted as evidence at the defense’s request.

    The prosecution had sought 18 years in prison for Oike, who was a resident of the apartment building at the time of the blaze that occurred on May 5, 2007. He was arrested and indicted in August that year.


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