Hollywood's bad-film awards are not much more than a joke.

But the nominees for Japan's Most Evil Corporation of the Year Award, also known as the Black Company Award, highlighting the ugly side of corporate Japan and its culture, have nothing to laugh about.

A group of journalists and rights activists on Monday announced nine nominees for the label of "black company," or a business with exploitative practices that has resulted in a worker's death and whose case has been referred to prosecutors.