The word “slave” appears on the first few pages of history textbooks used at school.
You might be familiar with texts like “In ancient Greece, war prisoners were traded as slaves.” or “The Third Servile War, also called the Gladiator War, was the last in a series of slave rebellions against the Roman Republic”. Because we learn about slavery in the context of ancient history, the word “slave” is often thought of as a thing of the past,but did you know that modern slavery has increased more than ever?.. The number of people working as slaves has been increasing every year! And even increased by 30% from 2014 to at least 40.3 million people¹. In other words, there are currently more slaves than the entire population of Canada or a third of the Japanese population.
Is the era of the slave trade over? │ Responsible consumption
In developing and emerging countries, poverty and unemployment have been increasing, which has been exacerbated by the influence of Corona, which is considered to be a cause that will further accelerate this problem.
Modern slavery in developing and emerging countries are deeply rooted in the lives of consumers in developed countries, including Japan. Did you know that many products you come in contact with on a daily basis, such as smartphones, clothing, marine products, chocolate, coffee, and cosmetics, are made by slaves? Isn’t it an exaggeration to say that the notation of the country of origin and country of origin of products for which COSPA is considered to be good speaks for itself?
“Modern slaves” whose lives are despised and consumed
There was a tragic incident in 2019 in which 39 Vietnamese bodies were found in a refrigerated container near London, England². This was one of many attempts to move enslaved people from developing and emerging countries to developed countries. Human trafficking has been widely taken up in the UK and regarded as a problem.
Japanese foreign worker problem │ Hidden voice of sorrow
Japan has been criticized internationally regarding the technical intern and trainees programs. Many of the foreign technical intern trainees who have traveled to Japan are victims of forced labor (about 290,000). Japan is a slave state, says the human rights group “Walk Free Foundation.” In the construction industry, more than twice as many foreign workers are injured as Japanese workers. While the number of casualties in the country as a whole is declining, over the past 20 years, about 4,700 foreign workers have been severely injured, and 30 have died.
At first glance, workers’ human rights infringement seems okay from the outside. Even in an industrial accident, it is often more difficult for foreign workers to communicate the problem than for Japanese people. The reality is that accidents and poor working conditions are often concealed.
Japanese labor laws require an employer to provide personal support, such as direct dialogue with foreign workers (The employer is required to provide support in a language in which the employee is proficient) and access to a representative from a third party to negotiate working conditions. Which is to prevent worker extortion and slave labor.
However, foreign workers are often held hostage by the employer by confiscation of their passports and not being able to speak the local language. If a worker does not have a residence status and is working illegally in Japan, they cannot ask for help when a problem occurs.
This foreign worker problem is expected only to increase in the future. To combat this problem, society needs to increase the transparency of the working environment and strengthen human rights support. There are also NPOs actively recruiting volunteers for those who want to combat the illegal labor problem foreign workers in Japan.
“Slaves” were exploited to bring enormous wealth to some layers of society 2,000 years ago. And still are in today’s society. It is not just the companies that are exploiting them. It also us as a society.