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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Foreign Trainees Rap Slave Wages, Japan Labor Conditions

Foreign trainees are forced to accept slave wages not stipulated in their labor contracts and they end up suffering under adverse labor conditions, like the absence of medical care as employers refuse to send them to hospitals for work-related ailments.

Photo Insert: Food preparation for foreign trainees

In a report by Kotaro Ono for Mainichi Japan on June 1, 2022, a 30-year-old Indonesian woman was supposed to be paid 960 yen an hour for packing shiso leaves for beef steak but ended being paid a mere 400 yen ($3.10) an hour.

The smell of the leaves made her dizzy and asked to see a doctor but the farmer-employer said there was no time for doctors. She quit her job and ended up at the Japan-Vietnam Exchange Center Hyogo in Kobe's Nagata Ward, a refuge for abused foreign trainees.

A Vietnamese man who borrowed money to fly to Japan in 2018 also blamed his recruiters for lying about quick money in a construction job. “It’s a lie,” he fumed.

Yoshihisa Saito, an associate professor in Kobe University's graduate school pointed out that the woman's pay did not match what was stipulated in her contract, and that she was forced to do work that had not been listed in her contract, which violated the Labor Standards Act.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

The woman, unable to stand the job of packing shiso leaves, announced she would resign, but a broker in her home country demanded 300,000 yen (about $2,300) from her in compensation, and threatened her, saying, "If you refuse to pay, we'll report you to the police."

The shelter commenced operations in 2019, when it secured a three-story house to accommodate technical trainees who had been forced to leave their workplaces and homes. The woman who fled from the farmer in Aichi Prefecture lives on the shelter's second floor.

Entrepreneurship: Business woman smiling, working and reading from mobile phone In front of laptop in the financial district.

There is also a Vietnamese woman living on the second floor and four men from Vietnam on the third floor. Rent is free in principle, but if the residents are working, they pay the nonprofit organization 5,000 yen per month. To date, 13 people have moved in and seven have left to return to their home countries or to secure work.

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