The headline “Unpaid overtime excesses hit young” for the June 25 article by Ayako Mie is misleading. The problem is not just the unpaid overtime; companies are ruining young recruits’ lives by abusing them as a matter of routine — within the regular workday and after 5. And the problem isn’t limited to these companies.
About two decades ago, I was shocked to learn about young foreign workers being abused by small Japanese companies. They were forced to work long hours for incredibly low wages. In some cases, the employer took away the employee’s visa so that she or he couldn’t escape at will from the hellish work. The labor ministry identified these workers under near-slave conditions as “trainees.” Ministry bureaucrats were the culprit. They broke the dreams of many young foreign workers by passing off hard labor as “training.”
Now the irresponsible and the greedy, who often style themselves as “patriots,” have found other victims — our own offspring. It’s as if these patriots are saying: When neighboring countries are poor and weak, exploit their young. If those countries have grown strong, exploit our own.
The greedy could not do as they please if the public were more concerned and vigilant. Much of our society is indifferent to the woes of the young and the exercise of such ugly power.
At the very least, we should have done a better job of educating our young on their constitutional rights and about the evil they would encounter in society.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.