OKAYAMA, JAPAN – A Vietnamese man who had worked as a technical trainee at a construction company in western Japan said Monday he was violently abused by Japanese colleagues for around two years and is demanding an apology and compensation from the company and supervising organization that arranged the placement.
Speaking at a press conference in Okayama with a representative from his labor union Fukuyama Union Tampopo, the 41-year-old claimed that he suffered injuries including broken bones as a result of the abuse, which began around a month after he started working at the company. He arrived in Japan in the fall of 2019.
Video footage of the abuse shows the man being hit on the head and body with a broom while working on the back of a truck, as well as being accused of failing to respond well in Japanese and punched in the body.
The man also claims that he suffered broken ribs after being kicked by a colleague wearing safety boots, and that he broke his tooth and required stitches to his lip after a scaffolding part was thrown at him and hit him in the face.
The man, who was taken into protective custody after consulting with the union in October 2021, said he wishes to transfer to another company in Japan and has not reported the incidents to police.
Speaking at the press conference through an interpreter, he said he had kept silent because he did not want to cause trouble for his family or other technical trainees.
A lawyer representing the construction company declined to comment, saying it was in the process of negotiating a settlement, while an official of the supervising organization also refrained from commenting on the claim, citing ongoing settlement discussions.
The government-sponsored technical internship program was introduced in 1993 with the aim of transferring skills to developing countries, but has been criticized as being a cover for companies to import cheap labor from other Asian nations.