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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 November 28 - December 4  > 67% of ‘runaway’ foreign trainees paid less than Japan’s minimum wage
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2018 November 28 - December 4 TOP3 [LABOR]

67% of ‘runaway’ foreign trainees paid less than Japan’s minimum wage

December 4, 2018
Sixty-seven percent of “runaway” foreign trainees were paid below Japan’s minimum wage, parliamentarians of opposition parties, including the Japanese Communist Party, made public on December 3 at a press conference in the Diet building.

Regarding Diet deliberation on a bill to revise the immigration control law, the JCP, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Democratic Party for the People, the Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Party, the parliamentary Group of Independents, and the Upper House political group “Okinawa Whirlwind” have urged the government to disclose data from the hearings of 2,892 foreign trainees who were caught in 2017 by immigration authorities after running away from their employers. The opposition camp claimed that the data contains important information regarding the use of foreign trainees, such as the number of hours worked and monthly earnings.

The government early this month permitted opposition lawmakers to access the interrogation data only within the Diet building and prohibited them from making photocopies. The lawmakers in relays hand copied the data and calculated hourly wages paid to the 2,892 trainees. They found out that 1,939 (67%) of the 2,892 runaways received wages less than the regional minimum wages. Okinawa and Miyazaki marked the lowest minimum wage among all the 47 prefectures in 2016 (714 yen) and 2017 (737 yen).

At the press conference, JCP Upper House member Nihi Sohei said that the government has labelled runaway trainees as “unmotivated workers”, but the interrogation data show that they left their workplaces in order to flee from exploitative labor practices. Pointing out that the opposition’s revelation represents just the tip of the iceberg, Nihi said, “The hearing records indicate the possibility that there are many foreign trainees who endure exploitative working conditions because of their economic situation. The immigration control revision bill will pave the way for the use of these foreign trainees as cheap labor under a new residency status.”

Later on the same day, JCP Secretariat Head Koike Akira said to the press, “The opposition forces’ effort verified information that foreign trainees are used in violation of the Labor Standards Law. The reason for the government’s reluctance to disclose the interrogation data is that the government supposedly has recognized this fact.”

The Abe government intends to enact the bill in the current Diet session scheduled to close on December 10.

Past related articles:
> Gov’t proposal for legal changes will expose foreign workers to human rights violations: JCP Fujino [November 14, 2018]
> Thousands of foreign trainees run away from exploitative working conditions [November 8, 2018]
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