Organizations and lawyer’s groups providing legal consultation fucusing on labor issues in Japan.
Q. I’m from U.K. I have been working in foreign affiliated company in Japan with 3 years working visa. Unfortunately, my Japanese proficiency is not so well. Yesterday, my supervisor gave me a termination letter without explaining reasonable reason, just saying my performance was not satisfactory for required level of my job and title, and then ordered me to get out of office without saying good-bye to my colleagues. Incredibly, he shut down my access to my lap-top, e-mail account, entrance key to the office. Under such circumstances, are there any resources or organizations that help me claim illegitimacy of their dismissal and pursue the company’s responsibility for wrongful dismissal? I’m just worried whether I would be ablet to make myself understand about my situation to the third party even a qualified professional lawyer because of language barrier. I heard it is miserably difficult to find out adequate labor lawyers or labor organizations that can provide legal advice in English and other foreign language in Japan.
A. Don’t worry. There are some organizations based in Tokyo to provide legal advice or help you negotiate with a company regarding labor and employment issues as follows.
1, Tokyo Metropolitan Government run-Labor consultation center.
Consultation provided by this organization is free of charge. Also, depending on nature in the case, they would mediate between worker and company for amicable settlement of labor dispute. Though staffs (public officer) in this organization work so hard and make every effort to protect worker’s legal right and have a company to abide by laws by negotiating with a company, pointing out illegitimacy of company’s termination decision and other unlawful treatment, there is limitation what they can do to solve the probleme ultimately because a company have no obligation to attend the mediation session held by this organisation, so some companies ignore their call for attending the meeting and their persuasion to take back company’s decision even which is wrongful.
2, Equal Employment Office of the Prefectual Labour Bureau, Ministry of Health, La bour and Welfare.
If your labor matter is related to the priciple of equal pay for equal work, you should go to this national govermental agency specifically dealing with ‘equality at work’ related matters, namely, discriminatory treatment for reasons of gender, pregnancy , protection of mothehood and difference of type of employment (contract) such as fixed term of contract or not and part-time worker or full time worker. There are various kinds of matters related to equality at work, but typical ones are sexual harassment, maternity harassment, unreasonable wage diffirence because of difference of employment type inspite of being engaged in the same content of job with the same responsiblity compared to comparative regular workers .
3, Japan Legal Support Center, so called HOUTERASU
JLSP provides multilingual legal consultation by professional lawyers. If you want to take legal consultation from professional lawyer( attorney at law) but cannot afford to pay attorney fee, I recommend this organization because JLSP’s consultation (30mitutes ) is basically free of charge if you cannot afford to pay the fee and meet the means requirement which is not so strict.
There are some specified areas such as labor issue, divorce and domestic violence case, insolvency case in addition to general case, so you would make an appointment requesting labor issues related consultation. Please take note that all lawyers in here would not speak English or other languages. JLSP’s language service is just preparing a translator for free during the consultation.
4, Legal Consultation provided by Bar Association in Tokyo
League of Bar Associations in Tokyo, consisting of Tokyo Bar Association, The Second Tokyo Bar Association and The First Bar Association jointly runs Legal Consulting Center for Foreigners. In this institution, you can take legal advice from professional lawyers with free interpreter service though all lawyers cannot speak English or other languages but some lawyers speak English or other languages fluently.
■Labor Lawyer’s group
1, Lawyers Network for Foreign Workers
If you want to talk directly with a labor lawyer who can speak English or other languages in legal consultation, I recommend this lawyer’s group. In this lawyer’s group, there are some member lawyers who can provide high-quality legal advice in fluent English and Spanish and others. If you request a legal consultation by a lawyer with good proficiency in English or Spanish or others , this organization will arrange an adequate lawyer per your request of legal consultation. For more detail information, please make inquiries with this organization.
This organization consisting of professional labor lawyers across Japan has long history, established some decade ago provides free legal hotline regularly. Unfortunately, they provide no foreign language service though there is no doubt that their professional skill and experience and knowledge are incredibly excellent.
Labor NGO named POSSE provides legal advice as well as supports workers in work-related troubles to negotiate with their company in labor dispute. Some of staffs here speaks English fluently.
Hope these information could be helpful for you. Off course, it would be grateful for me to give you some legal support if you have consultation request.