Japan's labour ministry has started a crackdown on about 4,000 "black companies" that force young employees to work extremely long hours for minimal pay, a step aimed at ending this exploitative business practice and improving their treatment.
If gross labour law violations are detected during the month-long crackdown, the ministry plans to send papers to prosecutors and publicise the names of the offending companies.
The crackdown is intended to help workers like the 26-year-old Tokyo man who joined an apparel trading company after graduating from university in the spring of 2011 and soon found himself in a hellish working environment. His boss yelled at him almost daily, and fists flew from time to time.
"If you don't reach your sales targets, don't take holidays," he was reportedly told. "You're just a waste of space."
The man was forced to work until late every night, and often came into the office on weekends. Although he clocked up more than 100 hours of overtime every month, he did not receive overtime pay. The company hired five new employees every year, but they would soon quit.
Eventually, the man could no longer stand the working environment. In autumn 2012, he resigned.
Jordan's state-run television has reported the government is ready to free death-row inmate Sajida al-Rishawi if a Jordanian military pilot held captive by the Islamic State militant group is released. (NHK)
The fate of Japanese freelance journalist Kenji Goto, believed to be held captive by the Islamic State militant group, has remained unknown after a new 24-hour deadline for negotiations on his life, set by the group, appears to have passed late Wednesday night. (Jiji Press)
Japan's leading independent budget airline Skymark Airlines Inc filed for protection from creditors late on Wednesday, blaming a weak yen and a dispute with Airbus Group for its financial straits. (Reuters)
Police have arrested a 19-year-old girl on suspicion of killing a 77-year-old woman. The girl, who is a student at Nagoya University, was quoted by police as saying she wanted to kill someone and that anyone would do, NTV reported Wednesday. (Japan Today)
Last week, officers from the Yotsuya Police Station in Tokyo took Takahiro Arimoto, the 44-year-old manager of massage parlor Honey Candle and one other employee into custody for the harmful employment of minors, a violation under the Labor Standards Act. (Tokyo Reporter)
Workers have begun tearing down structures at a train station here that was devastated in the deadly tsunami of 2011, citing the danger of collapse they pose to the growing number of visitors to the site. (Asahi)
Fukuoka Prefectural Police on Monday took the acting chairman of the Kudo-kai organized crime group into custody for allegedly blackmailing the owner of a building, reports the Yommiuri Shimbun (Jan. 26). (Tokyo Reporter)
Crown Prince Naruhito met Saudi Arabia's new King Salman in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Sunday and expressed his condolences over the death of King Abdullah, who passed away on Friday. (The Japan News)
A fire drill was conducted at Horyuji temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture, on Monday, which was Cultural Property Fire Prevention Day. About 100 personnel participated, including temple priests and local firemen. (The Japan News)
Social media users around the world have deluged a special Facebook page calling for the safety of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, who is being held captive by the Islamic State extremist group, with selfies proclaiming "I AM KENJI." (Asahi)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Monday the arrest of a former organized crime member for the sale of stimulant drugs to musician Aska two years ago, reports Nippon News Network (Jan. 26). (Tokyo Reporter)
The Islamic State beheaded one of the two Japanese citizens it has been holding, but signaled a potential willingness to negotiate over the fate of the other one - offering a tiny sliver of hope to a Japan reeling from shock and grief. (foreignpolicy.com)