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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 November 1 - 7  > Revised foreign trainee program falls short of getting rid of human rights abuses
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2017 November 1 - 7 [LABOR]

Revised foreign trainee program falls short of getting rid of human rights abuses

November 1, 2017
The Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship program which is criticized as a hotbed for human right violations was amended. The amended program began on November 1.

As of at the end of June, the number of foreigners staying in Japan under the foreign trainee program reached 250,000. The program was launched to promote international contribution through the transfer of Japan’s advanced technologies and skills. It, however, is often abused. A number of Japanese firms use this program to obtain foreign trainees as cheap labor. This has brought about human rights violations against foreign trainees.

Under the revised program, human rights abuses against foreign trainees such as passport seizures will be punished and the 300-staff Organization for Technical Intern Training (OTIT) will inspect 33,000 organizations supervising trainees as well as the host corporations.

There are concerns that the amended program will not work to eliminate illegal labor practices and other negative effects caused by host companies.

Meanwhile, with the revision, the nursing-care industry which suffers chronic labor shortages was added to industries covered by the foreign trainee program. In order to make it easy for nursing-care providers to accept foreign trainees, the required Japanese-language ability of trainees is set at a low level. If they understand conversations in Japanese spoken relatively at slow pace, they can work in care facilities. In addition, under the program, foreign trainees will be required to perform work without receiving sufficient training.

A parliamentarians’ group of the Japanese Communist Party in July urged the Labor Ministry to cancel the extension of the foreign trainee program to the nursing-care industry on the grounds that foreign trainees would basically be used as cheap labor to solve the industry’s staffing shortage.

The Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions (Iroren) is also demanding that the introduction of the program in the nursing-care sector be withdrawn as it will lead to an increase in the number of low-wage workers without rights.

Past related articles:
> Bill to expand use of controversial foreign trainee program enacted [November 19, 2016]
> 80% of employers using foreign trainees violate labor laws [October 2, 2015]
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