• Kyodo News


The economy is booming and free papers and the Internet are full of advertisements looking for temporary and contract workers, but some of the ads make exaggerated claims about monthly earnings and labor conditions, while keeping just inside the law on false advertising.

A man in his 20s in Odate, Akita Prefecture, saw an ad for temporary workers last November that said it was possible to earn more than 304,000 yen a month.

He came to Tokyo to interview with an employment agency and was told the job was with an automaker in Tokyo and his net monthly income would be at least 210,000 yen to 220,000 yen. He decided to take the job but soon found his actual wages were around 160,000 yen.

“I felt vexed. I was cheated,” he said angrily.

While engaged in collective bargaining with the personnel director of the employment agency, the union representing temporary workers asked on what grounds the agency had stated in the advertisement that income would be more than 300,000 yen. The personnel director replied, “On what grounds? None.”

He said the income level stated in the ad included an overtime allowance. “As it might cause misunderstanding, we’ll stop writing that,” he said.

A 46-year-old man from Sendai came to Tokyo after seeing a similar ad in a free paper, and was sent to a factory as a temporary worker, but his monthly income was less than 200,000 yen, far below what was promised.

“I entrusted my life when I took this job, but the conditions are quite different. They are cheating people from the countryside to make them work,” he said.

Other employment agencies are reportedly doing the same kind of misleading ads.

According to a survey by the Association of Job Information of Japan, advertisements on major recruitment Web sites have registered a 30 percent to 40 percent monthly increase over the past two years and those in free papers have registered a 40 percent increase.

“Recently, exaggerated advertisements are conspicuous in free papers and on the Internet,” an association official said.

Under the Employment Security Law, false advertisements can lead to penalties of up to six months in prison or a maximum fine of 300,000 yen, but there is no stipulation about exaggerated claims in advertisements or confusing descriptions.

An official at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said the claim in the ad in question that more than 300,000 yen could be earned was “ambiguous but cannot be said to be false. It is in a gray area.”

When the ministry gets a complaint, it may call the firm in question and ask it to correct the ad. The ministry took such action about 20 times last year.

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