Nintendo is investigating Wii U manufacturer Foxconn, after the Chinese company admitted that it had illegally hired underage workers. The console was in production at the time, and initial reports named the console among the devices the illegal hires worked on.
"Nintendo is in communication with Foxconn and is investigating the matter," a spokesperson told IGN. "We take our responsibilities as a global company very seriously and are committed to an ethical policy on sourcing, manufacture and labor. In order to ensure the continued fulfillment of our social responsibility throughout our supply chain, we established the Nintendo CSR Procurement Guidelines in July 2008. We require that all production partners, including Foxconn, comply with these Guidelines, which are based on relevant laws, international standards and guidelines. 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 Nintendo"s policy."
Chinese labor laws restrict workers under the age of 16, but the company confirmed to Reuters that it was using workers as young as 14. The workers were used for a three-week labor shortfall, employed as interns for school credit. China Labor Watch reports that students were told they could face expulsion if they refused to intern at the company. One unnamed government official claimed 56 students were being taken back to school after the company's admission.
Foxconn also manufactures most of Apple's products such as the iPhone and iPad. The company has attracted attention, particularly in the last year, for poor working conditions. A series of suicides and even a riot at one plant has shone a spotlight on the company, which is attempting to reform its image with initiatives such as shorter overtime hours.