Burmese hit by Japan job 'scam'

Nov 19, 2009 (DVB), A Rangoon-based Japanese employment agency is facing charges after more than 100 customers failed to receive job offers or visas to Japan a year after first paying for its services.

The Koeki Shoji company had advertised extensively in magazines inside Burma offering job seekers help in finding employment in Japan. The company claimed to be targeting those who had lost jobs following cyclone Nargis last year.

Around 100 people who joined the programme and paid the company 500,000 kyat ($US500) each as first installment have now filed charges with authorities in Rangoon, a year after making the payment.

According to retired school teacher, Moe Moe Nyein, who had helped job seekers join the programme, Koeki Shoji had promised a starting salary in Japan of 180,000 yen ($US2,000).

This would have come into place after customers had paid the full fee of 12 million kyat ($US12,000) to the company. The average annual wage in Burma is around $US200 per capita.

In August 2008, the job seekers paid the first installment fee to the company, then directed by a Japanese man known only as Mr Kinoshita.

Moe Moe Nyein said that Kinoshita had passed away in Rangoon in December 2008 and the company came under the management of another Japanese man, Mr Aikawa.

Later, the company urged the job seekers to attend a training program conducted by the company at a cost of 100,000 kyat ($US100) per month. They were also asked to pay an additional 1.2 million kyat ($US1,200) if they wanted to fast-track their visa for Japan.

The company promised the visa within three months of payment, but after nearly a year nothing had arrived.

Moe Moe Nyein said that some job seekers have asked for their money back but the company is yet to comply.

Complaints have been filed to police in Pabedan township, where the company office is located, and to government officials in the capital Naypyidaw, she said, adding that the case is now being processed.

When contacted by DVB, Aikawa said that he had learnt the company was facing legal action, but refused to comment further.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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