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April 01, 2004

Japanese Pay to Work in NZ for No Salary

Officials in New Zealand are investigating the case of a young Japanese woman who paid an employment agency to get her a job without salary at a hotel just to improve her English. Officials said Tuesday that Kayoko Sakamoto, 25, paid 2,400 New Zealand dollars ($US1,565) to Christchurch-based East Wind agency to secure an unpaid job at the city's Centra Hotel. She knew she would not get paid when she signed up, believing that was "normal". For the last month, she has worked eight-hour shifts, serving meals and cleaning rooms and only became suspicious when she saw that another Japanese employee was paid. 60 and 70 Japanese students applied to East Wind every week for work placements and were required to pay a weekly fee of up to $NZ60 ($US39). "I didn't think about money, I wanted experience of working with New Zealanders and using English. I thought it was better than going to a language school," Sakamoto said. "I saved for four years to come here, and now most of my money is gone." A spokeswoman for the Centra Hotel said Ms. Sakamoto was offered a three-month "work experience" placement and the hotel was unaware she had paid East Wind. It is now considering paying her and another Japanese intern.
New Zealand Herald

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