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Konami accused of blacklisting former employees - report

Publisher instructs other companies not to hire ex-staff, blocked Kojima Productions health insurance application

Konami is once again the subject of a controversy around the treatment of its employees, with the Nikkei reporting a variety of attempts to sabotage the careers and prospects of its former staff.

In an article titled "The Konami exodus," the Nikkei alleges that Konami director Kimihiko Higashio had used blocked Kojima Productions' application to join ITS Kenpo, a health insurance society aimed at gaming and internet companies. Higashio is the chairman of ITS Kenpo, and the report suggests that Kojima Productions was rejected in accordance with "Konami's wishes."

The once productive relationship between Konami and Kojima Productions founder Hideo Kojima publicly broke down in March 2015. Kojima then left the company in October of the same year, even as Konami insisted he was merely taking an extended holiday. In December, when Metal Gear Solid V was honoured at The Game Awards, Kojima said that he had been prevented from attending by Konami's on legal grounds - an allegation the Japanese publisher denied.

According to the Nikkei, though, Kojima is not a special case. The article recounts the testimony of multiple anonymous sources, all of whom describe attempts by Konami to intervene in the careers of people who leave the company.

One employee from a staffing agency said that Konami "files complaints to gaming companies who take on its former employees," causing one game company to "warn its staff against hiring ex-Kon" - "ex-Kon" being a nickname for ex-Konami employees. "If you leave the company, you cannot rely on Konami's name to land a job," one former employee said.

Konami is also accused of making legal threats against ex-Kons who give interviews to the media.

This is not the first time that Konami has been the subject of allegations around poor treatment of its employees. In August 2015, as the story around Hideo Kojima's departure was unfolding, the Nikkei published a report that described a company in which employees are treated with disdain and mistrust, and harshly punished for perceived transgressions.

If true, this new report indicates that the negative exposure Konami received was not sufficient incentive to motivate a positive change within the company.

Konami did not agree to the Nikkei's requests for comment.

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