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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pay, hours prompt Japan exit

Pay, hours prompt Japan exit

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Cambodian migrants who were forced to work at a factory in Japan for a fraction of the pay they were promised speak to Cambodian embassy staff at their residence in Ibaraki prefecture. Photograph: supplied

Eight Cambodians recruited for agricultural work in Japan have been repatriated after they were forced to work at a food factory for a fraction of the pay they were promised, the returnees said yesterday.

Five men and three women from Kandal and Pursat provinces returned home on Friday night with assistance from the Cambodian embassy in Japan.

They allege they signed up for agricultural work through the Cambodian branch of Japanese organisation Inaho Kyodoh Kumiai, but were made to work at Family Foods, in Ibaraki prefecture, when they arrived.

A thumbprinted statement by the workers obtained by the Post said the factory had forced them to work more than 13 hours a day at half the salary they had been promised, some for more than a year.

“We did not have any freedom to relax. If they found us talking to Japanese or entering into a relationship with them, they would cut our salary,” the document states.

Noun Rany, 24, from Kandal, said the embassy had come to their aid after Japanese authorities discovered their paperwork permitted them to work only in agriculture.

“Because I was working in the wrong place, the company then threatened to send me back without compensation. I called the embassy for help,” he said.

Sin Sovanna, 33, from Pursat, said she had worked in Japan for 10 months and was relieved to be home.

“I enlisted with the company because I had heard from a friend and neighbour that they were getting a high salary. But my salary was cut while I worked there, so I’m so happy to come back,” she said.

Ten Borany, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Human Trafficking department, said it was further investigating Family Foods and Inaho Kyodoh Kumiai, which along with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, could not be reached yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at david.sen@phnompenhpost.com

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