A Chinese trainee has won compensation from a Japanese farm for underpaying her, in the latest incident of abuse involving a trainee program often accused of being a cover for importing cheap labor.
The Mito District Court ruled on Friday that a father and son who run a farm in Ibaraki Prefecture must pay the Chinese trainee 1.99 million yen for wages owed, and a similar amount as a fine.
The 32-year-old woman started working at the vegetable farm a month after arriving in Japan in September 2013, according to the complaint.
The court recognized that her overtime pay was 400 yen per hour, calculating that she bundled 200 bunches of Japanese basil an hour and was paid 2 yen per bunch. The ruling said that she worked every day until 9 or 10 p.m. and occasionally until midnight.
The wage paid to the trainee was far smaller than the minimum hourly wage of around 700 yen at that time set by local labor officials.
“A 400 yen hourly wage is wrong and there are many similar cases in Japan,” said Shoichi Ibusuki, her defense lawyer and expert on foreign labor issues.
“It is the reality for trainees that they cannot claim their rights or protest,” he said, criticizing the vegetable farm for taking advantage of the situation.
But the court dismissed the woman’s damages claim over alleged sexual harassment at the farm, and against the foreign trainee supervisory organization that arranged her employment.
The training program for foreigners was introduced in 1993 to transfer skills to developing countries.
More Info: japantoday.com