Nintendo investigating Foxconn over underage employment at a factory in China

Foxconn found underage interns, some as young as 14, working at one of its factories in China

Nintendo said on Thursday the company was investigating how underage interns were employed at a Foxconn factory in China, which assembles products for the Japanese gaming company.

"Nintendo is in communication with Foxconn and is investigating the matter," the company said in a statement. "We take our responsibilities as a global company very seriously and are committed to an ethical policy on sourcing, manufacture and labor."

The factory, which is located in the coastal city of Yantai, had been employing an undisclosed number of interns below the legal working age of 16, according to an internal investigation by Foxconn. Some of the interns were as young as 14, and had been working at the factory for three weeks.

The employment of the underage interns at the factory was first reported this week by Chinese media and New York-based China Labor Watch. Foxconn on Tuesday said the company had apologized to the students, and taken steps to return the interns back to their schools.

Foxconn regularly employs students from vocational schools as part of its intern program, which contributes to 2.7 percent of the manufacturing giant's total workforce of 1.2 million in China, according to the company.

The Taiwanese manufacturing giant is carrying out a full investigation and plans to work with the local government to ensure vocational schools supplying the students are in compliance with labor laws and Foxconn's policies.

While Foxconn said its found no evidence of similar violations at other company factories in China, last month China Labor Watch claimed student interns at another Foxconn factory were being forced to work at the facility in order to earn school credit. Foxconn, however, denied the charge and said interns were free to leave the program at any time.

Nintendo said in its statement it requires all of its suppliers to follow its guidelines on labor practices. " If we were to find that any of our production partners did not meet our guidelines, we would require them to modify their practices according to Nintendos policy," the company added.

A Nintendo spokesman declined to say what products and components Foxconn produces for the company.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service

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