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Japan's 7-Eleven to address underpayment claims amid scrutiny

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Japanese retailer Seven & i Holdings, already under nationwide scrutiny over labour issues, said on Tuesday company executives would address claims about employee underpayment at its 7-Eleven convenience store chain.

[TOKYO] Japanese retailer Seven & i Holdings, already under nationwide scrutiny over labour issues, said on Tuesday company executives would address claims about employee underpayment at its 7-Eleven convenience store chain.

The Nikkei had earlier reported that the 7-Eleven chain in Japan miscalculated overtime payment for years, possibly since the 1970s, with missed payments running into at least 490 million yen (S$6.12 million).

A Seven & i spokesman said the report was "not inaccurate", and added that top executives of 7-Eleven Japan would make an announcement at 0700 GMT.

The convenience store chain has been under pressure to review its 24-hour store policy, with franchise owners struggling to keep stores staffed around the clock amid the tightest labour market in 40 years.

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The company has been testing shorter hours at some stores after the plight of some franchise owners attracted nationwide attention.

The 7-Eleven stores, which originated in the United States but are now owned by a Japanese retail group, expanded rapidly since the 1970s as their 24-hour accessibility proved a perfect match with the country's dense population and late-night work culture.

However, analysts say the Japanese convenience store market is highly saturated, and a demographic crunch means the industry has little room for growth.

REUTERS