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Japan Uses Prison Slave Labor

While the use of prison slave labor by China has been widely criticized by the US, less well known is the fact that Japan also has a similar system. In July, 1994, congressman Gary Ackerman (NY Dem), head of the foreign affairs subcommittee on Asia, told reporters that Japan should account for all goods produced under its system of forced prisoner labor and halt the practice. Ackerman said that forcing prisoners to work more than eight hours a day violated the International Labor Organization's conventions.

Japan bans the export of its prison produced goods to the United States but not to other countries. Thus, there is no way of knowing whether prison goods enter the US through third countries.

Japanese prison slave labor practices were reported to Ackerman by Christopher Lavinger, a constituent who spent 16 months in a Japanese prison. Lavinger claims he was forced to make shopping bags with trademarks for Mizuno Sporting Goods, Burberry's of London and Japanese department stores. He also made pinball machines, electronic devices and toys. He was paid three to twenty cents an hour. Ackerman said "Companies that participate in this type of program are promoting indentured servitude." Not mentioned by Ackerman is the fact that the US engages in similar programs of exploiting prison slave labor and exports prison made goods [See PLN , Vol. 5, No. 5.]

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