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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 March 28 - April 3  > JCP Kokuta: Japan should stop exploiting labor in developing countries at ship scrapyards
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2018 March 28 - April 3 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

JCP Kokuta: Japan should stop exploiting labor in developing countries at ship scrapyards

April 2, 2018

Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Kokuta Keiji on March 28 at a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee meeting urged the government to prevent the exploitation of labor and environmental concerns from occurring through the scrapping of Japan-flagged ships in developing countries.

Kokuta made this remark in his question time regarding a bill to approve the international accord on ship recycling.

The accord, officially the “Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009”, was adopted in May 2009 and has yet to come into force. This multinational structure sets out rules to ensure that ship scrapping procedures are completed in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. Japan is an advocate of the convention.

In the Lower House committee meeting, Kokuta referred to the fact that at ship-recycling yards in less industrialized nations like India and Pakistan, workers carry out their tasks manually because their facilities are not equipped with heavy machinery such as cranes. The JCP lawmaker pointed out that harsh working conditions have caused workers’ injuries in addition to increasing pollution to the environment, which has become a serious problem. He went on to say that occupational deaths have frequently been reported. The use of manual labor in the scrapping ships is prohibited in Japan.

Kokuta said that Japanese ships that need to be recycled are sent to the developing world because of low labor costs.

Foreign Ministry Director-General for Global Issue Suzuki Hideo replied, “It is unacceptable if the recycling of Japanese ships takes place in underdeveloped countries for the purpose of cutting labor costs.”

Kokuta introduced the Transport Ministry’s report regarding the creation of a system for the promotion of ship recycling. Kokuta explained that the ministry in the report stated that it is highly expected that possession of adequate recycling capability will contribute to security of iron resources, cuts in CO2 emissions, job creation, and revitalization of local economies. Kokuta said that as a major nation in the global maritime and shipbuilding industries, the role Japan should play is to promote the proper recycling of ocean-going large commercial vessels and work to support the ship scrapping industry.
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