Bread & Roses: Pandemic Drives Women into “Nighttime Work”

On November 16, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced the disciplinary dismissal of a 28-year-old school nurse for moonlighting as a sex worker for more than a year. 

Tokyo officials interrogated her after receiving an anonymous tip about her after-hours work. The primary and middle school nurse said she wanted to save enough money to live on her own in the city. The officials used the word menshoku (removal/dismissal from office) rather than kaiko (dismissal from employment) since she was a local government civil servant. 

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Bread & Roses: Osaka Rules Against Taxi Dispatcher for Transphobic Dress Code

SNA (Tokyo) — We were told that the 1985 Equal Employment Opportunity Act (EEOA) marked the “dawn” of a new age for female workers in Japan. No more could employers blithely set up special marry-and-leave retirement systems for their female employees, a practice that had been considered perfectly legal. Several amendments boosted the reach of the law and wording revisions extended protection from gender discrimination and sexual harassment to male workers.

But, in many ways, Japan remains stuck in its old patriarchic ways. Bucking an international trend, Japan still prohibits same-sex marriage and post-nuptial couples must choose one surname, usually the husband’s (unless one partner is a foreign national). And the law retains the word “gender,” leaving unclear what if any protection is extended to LGBTQ workers.

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Bread & Roses: Should Progressives Celebrate Ibuski’s Hero Award?

SNA (Tokyo) — On July 1, the US State Department cited Attorney Shoichi Ibuski as one of seven heroes in its 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report for his long years of work fighting for the rights of foreign workers caught up in Japan’s technical intern program.

The TIP report explained how domestic and overseas brokers continue to abuse this system, ostensibly to provide technical training to those from poorer countries, to exploit foreign workers. It went on to condemn the Japanese government for lacking the political will to investigate the system’s victims and provided them real protection.

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Bread & Roses: Overhaul Japan’s Immigration System

SNA (Tokyo) — During a May 30 demonstration in front of central Tokyo’s JR Takadanobaba Station, my labor union, Tozen Union, called upon the Japanese government to overhaul its immigration system and to protect the human rights of foreigners.

We persisted despite a heavy downpour, joined by the two younger sisters of Wishma Sandamali, a 33-year-old Sri Lankan woman who died after medical neglect in a Nagoya immigration detention center.

Wayomi Rathnayake called on the Immigration Bureau to release all video, documents, and information related to her sister’s death. Japan’s immigration bureaucracy has a history of opacity and arbitrary treatment of foreigners. We demanded that the government guarantee foreigners’ right to life, regardless of visa status. We must not accept valuing some lives less than others, due to flukes of fate that determine citizenship and residence status.

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