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The Department of Labor, Taipei City Government invited the director of the opening film at the 2017 Taiwan International Labor Film Festival to share her understanding on the overworking of Japanese laborers

“2017 Taiwan International Labor Film Festival” organized by the Department of Labor, Taipei City Government took place from October 27, 2017 to October 29, 2017 at Spot Huashan, providing 18 shows of 23 films in total. Among them, three films made their debut in Taiwan, including the opening film as well as the short film series Japan’s Disposable Workers: Overworked to Suicide, Net Cafe Refugees, Dumping Ground, featured film The Women Worker's War as well as the closing film that made its debut in the world Squid Jigging Fishing Boat enjoyed a major success and sold out all tickets on site, with a total audience of 1718 over the three day period.

The Department of Labor, Taipei City Government especially invited the director, Shiho Fukada, of the opening film Japan’s Disposable Workers: Overworked to Suicide, Net Cafe Refugees, Dumping Ground to participate in the speech and discuss with nearly 50 middle to high ranking managerial personnel of the Department of Labor, Taipei City Government on the labor issues in modern Japan due to problems of overworking, bullying at work, the breakdown of the employment relationship in the bubble economy. The director mentioned in the film various phenomena including the schizophrenic symptoms due to overworking, bullying at work, overworking from atypical employment, depressive suicide and unemployment as well as increased senior homeless persons. Although all of these are from the filmmaker’s observation and there are differences between the Taiwanese and Japanese cultures, the deeply rooted labor stereotypes in society conveyed in the film may have unfortunately become the cause of overworking.

In addition, the director, Shiho Fukada, shared her experience as a photographer working with the media such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to concern about the labors at the bottom of Japanese society through video- recording and photographing. These workers who are treated as disposable chopsticks, as a matter of fact, are unstable workers who make up one third of all the Japanese laborers. Even the white-collar laborers may become Internet café refugees due to atypical employment; they may obtain a job by chance, but later situate in the crisis of bullying at work, depression or overworking to death. For example, a young female graduate from the University of Tokyo could not bear the pressure of overworking and chose to commit suicide. The video project of three episodes took the director four to five years to complete, hoping to call for the Japanese government and the public’s attention on overworking, bullying at work and suicide, and hopefully urge for societal changes.

Despite the fact that solutions to occupational safety and health issues may not be immediately available, the Department of Labor, Taipei City Government expects to cultivate the administrative team’s sensibility on issues and develop empathy for the subjects in the films so that problems could be detected and effective policies implemented.

To access the films, please search “2017 Taiwan International Labor Film Festival” on the Facebook or go to the activity website at http://www.tilff.taipei/. Also contact the organizer “95 Youth Labor Union”(Telephone 02-2393-0195)or 1999(Out of the city 02-2720-8889)extension 3357 for the Labor Education and Culture Division, Department of Labor, Taipei City Government.