Ex-director sues Amnesty Japan for firing him over Japanese ability

Japan Times -- Feb 18
A former executive director of Amnesty International Japan has sued the human rights organization for Y5 million ($47,500), claiming unfair dismissal after he was diagnosed with depression that stemmed from being forced to give reports in Japanese, sources familiar with the case said Tuesday.

According to the complaint filed with the Tokyo District Court, Taro O’Sullivan said the organization hired him with the knowledge that he could speak Japanese at a conversational level but could barely read or write it.

The 62-year-old American is also seeking to have his dismissal overturned and has filed for damages against the Tokyo-based organization and Kaori Shoji, a professor at Gakushuin University in Tokyo who was the organization’s chair at the time.

Amnesty International Japan said the board of directors acted appropriately.

“I would like to establish the truth through this trial,” Shoji said.

O’Sullivan, whose mother is Japanese, joined the organization in March 2017 after completing his tenure as the executive director of a major North American labor federation in Los Angeles.

He was to be formally employed after completing a six-month probation, but during that period a requirement was added that reports and presentations were to be given in Japanese.

- Japan Times