Minato Ward, Tokyo. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
Minato Ward, Tokyo. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

A temple in Tokyo remembers 81 dead young Vietnamese students and workers on mortuary tablets, who have died in Japan over the past seven years.

Thich Tam Tri, a 40-year-old nun at the Nisshinkutsu Temple in the Minato Ward, said many of the 81 deceased were technical interns and students in their 20s or 30s, The Asahi Shimbun reported.

In July, three technical interns and a student passed away after committing suicide or dying from other causes.

Many foreign students and young workers in the country have suffered from overwork, health problems or overwhelming pressure in their daily lives. In fact, experts have said that the harsh working environment in Japan needs to be improved.

A tablet at the temple remembers a technical intern who killed himself on July 15. The victim left notes for his company, his family back home and his younger brother, who also worked in Japan.

Tam Tri said young workers and students are immensely stressed due to language barriers a well as malnutrition, as they often just eat cup ramen – cheap noodles – to save money to repay debts or ease their costs while sending cash to their families back home.

Dr Junpei Yamamura, 63, said youngsters can be excessively devoted to their work and not get enough rest, which causes mental pressure and stress that eats away at their body. Yamamura had a run-in with a man in his 20s who died of heart complications. The doctor said that Japan’s inappropriate policies were responsible for the youngsters’ deaths.

Shoichi Ibusuku, a lawyer who is experienced in such issues, said the technical intern system had a problem because trainees could not even complain about their working conditions.

In 2017, the number of Vietnamese living in Japan was officially put at 262,405 – seven times as many as a decade earlier. And nearly half of them were technical interns.

Japan’s shortage of labor, plus good diplomatic relations with Vietnam had contributed to the increasing number of migrant workers.