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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 August 22 - 28  > Abe gov’t new policy on foreign workers increases concern in regard to human rights violations
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2018 August 22 - 28 [LABOR]

Abe gov’t new policy on foreign workers increases concern in regard to human rights violations

August 23, 2018
The Abe Cabinet has made a shift in the current policy limiting the use of foreign workers only to highly specialized jobs and has decided to accept more foreign workers also in unskilled jobs under the pretext of easing Japan’s labor shortage.

Under the policy change, the government initially focused on the fields of nursing-care, agriculture, construction, shipbuilding, and accommodation. In addition, it is now intending to expand the use of non-skilled foreign workers to the manufacturing and fishery industries.

Meanwhile, various cases in which foreign workers are forced to work under harsh working conditions and are exploited as cheap labor have been reported under the government foreign trainee program.

For example, a Vietnamese worker who worked at a Japanese farm as a foreign trainee said, “Working conditions in the job details given by a Vietnamese broker was: 200,000 yen salary a month; five day-work week; eight-hour workday; and accommodation provided. I paid 1.5 million yen to the broker. However, the reality was different. My work started at 6 a.m. and I was forced to work all through the night until 2 a.m. The place where I stayed was a farm equipment storage facility, and 20,000 yen was deducted from my salary each month as rent. After working for seven months, I ran away from the farm.”

The foreign trainee program, formally known as the Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship Program, is often criticized for allowing widespread illegal labor practices including passport seizures and the imposition of excessively long working hours. A Labor Ministry survey in 2017 showed that among 6,000 business entities which were investigated in regard to the use of foreign trainees, 70% were found to have committed clear violations of overtime rules and other labor laws.

In response, the ministry last year set up an organization to tighten control over the foreign trainee program.

The Japanese Communist Party has been demanding that when accepting non-Japanese workers, the government implement measures to protect their labor rights, improve their working conditions so that they can secure decent living conditions, and defend their human rights.

Past related article:
> Revised foreign trainee program falls short of getting rid of human rights abuses [November 1, 2017]
> 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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