The global pandemic has been going on for a year in the West, but even longer in many parts of Asia, where the virus was first discovered. Like many countries, Japan – home to a number of high-profile games studios and publishers – asked workers to stay home, or at least to limit the number of people in the office.
However, reports have emerged that Resident Evil and Monster Hunter developer Capcom, headquartered in Osaka, has been allegedly forcing its employees to work on-site, and refusing to give time off if they catch the virus. These reports come from a whistleblower speaking to Japan’s Business Journal, and were reported by Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft.
In the Business Journal piece, published on the 10th March, the anonymous whistleblower details the pressure placed on the employees to “support the Japanese economy”. The executives sent an email blaming their decision on last year’s cyber attack and data leak, because allowing its employees to work remotely would apparently mean further security risk.
According to the report, anyone who refuses to work in the office will be placed on standby at home (where, if they catch COVID, they have been told it is “your own responsibility” and “at your own risk”) or threatened with restrictions on their jobs.
Capcom’s PR office responded to the Business Journal, saying that they are “committed to health and safety” and that they had offered staggered hours, telecommuting, and masks to everyone involved, with mandatory temperature checks upon entry and enforced social distancing.
However, the Business Journal could not confirm all of these measures, noting that Capcom does not have or allow workers’ unions, and that flexible hours are dependent on your rank within the company.
All of these allegations about Capcom’s business practices are not technically against Japan’s Labour Standards Act, the Business Journal notes, but states that such practices are exploitative and unfair nonetheless.