Foreign worker fatalities show worker exploitation in Japan

Incidents in Japan related to work killed 22 foreign workers over three-years, from 2014 to 2017, reflecting the risk that foreign workers brought here could face extremely dangerous conditions. While the causes of deaths of the 22 workers were caused by accidents, one was the result of overworked labor.


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Over the 3 year period, there were 475 cases of such accidents reported every year that compensation and industrial accident insurance required workers a leave for four or more days. Working long working hours, unpaid wages and violence have also been reported.


According to the Justice Ministry, foreign trainees are in very high demand. In 2014, 167,641 were reported. In 2015, there were 192,655 and in 2016 there were 228,589 working foreigners. The ratio, if the 22 deaths are taken to account, works out to roughly 3.7 deaths per 100,000 foreign workers. For Japan as a whole, the data the labor ministry shows is that some of the work-related deaths in all industries can be as little as 1.7 deaths per 100,000 workers.


Director of the Japan Civil Liberties Union, Akira Hatate, is an expert on the foreign worker system, and he points out that there could be more cases of foreign workers dying on the job due to Japan’s lax reporting standards.


New data came to light as the Japanese government moves to expand the system even though there is a nationwide workforce shortage and political resistance to boosting immigration and migrants.


Under a new law that took effect in November 2017, the job of nursing was added to the list in which foreign workers can work. The change was made as medical companies are fighting to overcome a shortage of workers in an industry that is becoming increasingly more important due to the rapid dying of the population.


Reference: Foreign trainee fatality data highlight safety and exploitation issues in Japan


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