Foreigners win ¥17 million for trainee abuses

The Kumamoto District Court awarded more than ¥17 million in damages Friday to four Chinese interns who were forced to work long hours for low wages in Kumamoto Prefecture.

The court ordered that the union Plaspa Apparel, which arranged the trainee work for the four, to pay ¥4.4 million and that the actual employer, a sewing agency, pay ¥12.8 million in unpaid wages.

It is the first ruling that held a job broker for foreign trainees liable for their hardships, according to lawyers representing the four interns.

The four female Chinese trainees, aged 22 to 25, engaged in sewing from early morning to late evening with only two or three days off a month after arriving in Japan in 2006, according to the court.