A Cambodian man won compensation after he developed depression due to verbal and physical abuse at the construction firm where he worked as a technical intern trainee.

The Tachikawa labor standards inspection office, an arm of the labor ministry, approved the man’s application for industrial accident compensation as of June 7, the man and representatives from his labor union revealed at a news conference on Sept. 12.

Akita Hatate, a board member of the Japan Civil Liberties Union, an association that has also been supporting the man, complained at the news conference that many companies are “covering up” work-related injuries and illnesses of technical intern trainees from overseas.

Hatate also argued the need to establish a system to ensure trainees can address work-related issues, such as by setting up outlets where they can consult in their own languages.

The Technical Intern Training Program is aimed at people from developing countries to study specific technology or skills in Japan while working, and to disseminate them in their homelands upon their return. But the program has been criticized both inside and outside Japan as merely exploiting trainees as cheap labor.

The Cambodian man joined the Tokyo-based construction company in July 2014, and worked as sewer plumber under the program.

According to the outline of the approval given by the Tachikawa labor standards inspection office, a number of Japanese senior staff in the company verbally and physically abused him on a daily basis, including using coarse language, telling him he was “stupid,” and hitting him on the head over his helmet.

On one occasion, he was grabbed by the neck and pushed over.

In March 2016, he was clinically diagnosed as suffering from depression.

The inspection office judged that the words and actions of his superiors constituted denigration beyond the realm of work training, contributing to the victim’s development of depression, and classified the condition as a work-related illness.

The man is going to return to Cambodia this month, where he will continue treatment for his depression.

According to the labor ministry, available records through fiscal 2016 show there had been only one precedent case of certification of work-related mental illness filed by a foreign technical intern trainee.

There were about 230,000 trainees in Japan as of end of fiscal 2016, according the Justice Ministry.