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Subaru says suppliers have been told to treat workers fairly

A woman holding an umbrella walks under a logo of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd (FHI)'s Subaru outside the company's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, July 31, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

(Reuters) - Fuji Heavy Industries <7270.T>, the parent company of automaker Subaru, has told its network of suppliers that it expects them to treat workers fairly and to uphold "human rights and international standards of behavior."

"Fuji Heavy Industries does not condone the exploitation of any class of worker, either in its own operations or within its supply chain," the company said in a statement released on Friday by its U.S. marketing and sales affiliate, Subaru of America.

"Our supply chain network has been made aware of our policy and expectations," it said.

The Subaru statement came in response to a Reuters investigation of factory conditions at Subaru and its suppliers in Japan published last week. The report found widespread employment of asylum seekers and other cheap foreign laborers from Africa and Asia.

Those workers complained of working conditions that included lower wages than Japanese laborers doing equivalent work, a lack of safeguards and abuses at the hands of labor brokers who charge up to a third of their wages to place them in Subaru-related jobs, Reuters found.

Fuji Heavy said it "expects all employees to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect and to be provided with appropriate workplace protections." It said its policies called for respect for "human rights and international standards of behavior and the ethical standards of our stakeholders."

(Reporting By Kevin Krolicki; Editing by Sandra Maler)