Black company (Japanese term)

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A black company (ブラック企業?, burakku kigyō), also referred to in English as a black corporation or black business, is a Japanese term for an exploitative sweatshop-type employment system.

While the term "sweatshop" is associated with manufacturing, and the garment trade in particular, in Japan black companies are not necessarily associated with the clothing industry, but more often with office work.

Origin of the term[edit]

The term "black company" was coined in the early 2000s by young IT workers, but has since come to be applied to various industries.[1]

Conditions[edit]

While specifics may vary from workplace to workplace and company to company, a typical practice at a black company is to hire a large number of young employees and then force them to work large amounts of overtime without overtime pay. Conditions are poor, and workers are subject to verbal abuse and "power harassment" (bullying) by their superiors.[1] In order to make the employees stay, superiors of black companies would often abuse the reputation of a young employee quitting.

Noteworthy cases[edit]

Mina Mori, 26 years old, a worker at the restaurant chain Watami committed suicide[2] in 2008 two months after joining the company. Her family lodged a complaint with the Yokosuka Labor Standards Office to seek recognition of the suicide as work related. This was denied, but on appeal to the Kanagawa prefectural Labor Bureau it was found the main cause of her mental health problem was work-related stress.[3][4] In December 2015 Watami reached an out-of-court settlement of 130 million yen with the family and Watami founder Miki Watanabe apologised.[5]

Media coverage[edit]

The issue of black companies has attracted attention in Japan. The 2009 drama film On The Verge At a Black Company was set in such a workplace,[6] and in 2012 there was a "Black Corporations Award" where people could vote on "the most evil corporation of the year".[7][8]

In 2013 a DVD titled Black Kigyō ni Go-yōjin (Beware of Black Companies) was released.[9]

The protagonist of the manga ReLIFE worked at a black company.

In the manga and anime series Warau seerusuman (Laughing Salesman), one of the victims/protagonist worked at Black Corporation and contemplated suicide before meeting the Laughing Salesman.

References[edit]