High court awards illegal worker lost pay

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court on Jan. 28 awarded a foreigner 2.2 million yen in income it estimated he lost due to an injury sustained while working illegally in Japan. It was the first ruling by the top court concerning a claim for income lost by an illegally employed foreigner.Based on past earnings, the sum awarded includes three years’ worth of income that Boby Maqsood, 31, could have earned in Japan and 39 years of pay he could have earned in his home country of Pakistan. Maqsood came to Japan on a sightseeing visa in 1988 and lost a finger on his right hand in 1990 while working at a print shop. Maqsood claimed that his employers neglected their responsibility to ensure the safety of its workers and demanded compensation equal to that which would be granted to a Japanese worker in a similar case.The top court ordered the owner of the shop to pay the damages. The ruling was in support of previous decisions made by the Tokyo High Court and Tokyo District Court.The Tokyo District Court ruling recognized faults on the part of the employer, saying that Maqsood’s ability to work had been cut by 20 percent because of the accident. Both courts ruled that an estimate of financial losses for Maqsood should not be strictly based on his Japanese wages, but on those he could have earned in Pakistan as well.He was awarded 170,000 yen, his monthly wages in Japan, multiplied by 36 months, plus a sum proportionate to about 39 years of salary he could have earned in Pakistan, where the retirement age is set at 67. His prospective income in Pakistan was estimated at 30,000 yen a month.The total amount of compensation came to about 2 million yen. Maqsood appealed these rulings, claiming that estimated losses be wholly made on the basis of his income in Japan. The Supreme Court, however, upheld the previous rulings, saying three years is an appropriate estimation because undocumented foreigners generally cannot remain in the country for any longer than that period.In handing down his ruling, Presiding Judge Tsuneo Kabe stressed that there is no reason for estimated losses to be any different for Japanese and foreign workers. Calculations should be based on future income, he said, but facts such as how long the claimant could have continued working in Japan should be taken into consideration.