See I told you so #2: Oct-Jan 1000 “Trainees” repatriated, returning to debts.


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Hi Blog.  Here come the stats.  The “Trainees” (mostly Chinese working non-laborers in Japanese farms and factories), which I discussed in part in my most recent Japan Times article, are being sent home in large numbers, to face debts.  Oh well, so what, as I’ve said — they’re not Nikkei.  They don’t get any assistance.  Just the promise of a “review”of the “trainee visa system” by May 2009, something people have been clamoring for since at least November 2006!  Yet it only took a month or so for the GOJ to come up with and inaugurate something to help the Nikkei, after all (see above JT article).  But again, too bad:  wrong blood.  

I think we’ll see a drop in the number of registered NJ for the first time in more than four decades this year.  Maybe that’ll be See I Told You So #3.  I hope I’m wrong this time, however.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS:  Love how the Mainichi classifies this as “National News” in English, but “Overseas News” (kaigai) in Japanese.  I guess the hundreds of thousands of “Trainees” saving our industries are not a domestic problem for Japanese readers.


National News

1,000 foreign trainees forced to return home as firms feel pinch

(Mainichi Japan) April 7, 2009, Courtesy Matt D and Jeff K

More than 1,000 foreign trainees involved in government programs were forced to return home as sponsor companies have been suffering from the deteriorating economy, a government survey has revealed.

According to the survey held by the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau, a total of 1,007 foreign trainees left Japan between October last year and January before their contract period ended. Of that figure, 921 people were laid off due to their employers’ deteriorating business conditions, and 86 were dismissed after their host companies went bankrupt.

The figures have increased every month, quadrupling to 489 in January from 114 in October last year.

The trainees’ three-year contracts can be terminated if both parties agree, however, most of foreigners were forced to leave, according to the survey.

“Most of the trainees took out a loan of about 700,000 yen to 1 million yen to come to Japan,” said a representative of Advocacy Network for Foreign Trainees in Tokyo’s Taito Ward. “If they return home before their contract period ends, they will be left in debt. The government should take some countermeasures.”

The central government is now reviewing the trainee program, including the guarantee of the trainees’ status, which is not covered by the current Labor Standards Law. A revision is expected to be made in May.

Japan received a total of 102,018 foreign trainees in 2007, according to the Immigration Bureau.




外国人研修生:1000人超が途中帰国 経営悪化や倒産で






毎日新聞 2009年4月7日 2時30分 


8 comments on “See I told you so #2: Oct-Jan 1000 “Trainees” repatriated, returning to debts.

  • I agree in principle except for one point.
    These million-yen loans were set up by obviously dishonest scam artists likely working in league with the exploitative employers in Japan.

    But aren’t the loan sharks “back home” in China?
    I’m just assuming here that the Japanese companies were benefitting from the cheap labor, while on the Chinese side, they found a way to profit by actually charging these people for the privilege of being sent abroad to be exploited.

    It’s a sad part of the story, but if the trainee (or anyone) is gullible enough to pay a million yen loan where an air ticket can’t be more than 50,000 yen, I don’t see how the Japanese government and my tax yen should have additional financial responsibility to help these trainees pay back outrageously inflated loans to Chinese “bankers”. Where did the money go? Maybe some bribes to Chinese bureaucrats and airline tickets, but 1,000,000 yen?!

    If there were payoffs and kickbacks inside Japan, then yes, the government should be responsible for recovering those moneys (through seizure, or fines on these employers) and returning it to the victims. But in practice, such a thing is rare or impossible (How to fine a bankrupt company?)

    But yes, the major issue is the double standard. Why should one group of unemployed gaijin get special favors, while the others are not? Ideally either NONE of them, or ALL of them should be getting help.

    The really perplexing thing is Japan keeps making noises about the population problem, yet kicking out (or encouraging to leave) unlucky and recently unemployed gaijin, usually of child-bearing age, many with children. The message is clear from the deeds, not words. Except for the one pie-in-the-sky target (but not official policy, right?) of a 10% foreign population by 2050, the Japanese politicians and bureaucrats have NO desire to ACTUALLY increase the number of foreigners living in Japan long enough to solve the population problem. It’s not a “population problem”, it’s a “Japanese-race population problem” to them.

  • Level 3

    “It’s a sad part of the story, but if the trainee (or anyone) is gullible enough to pay a million yen loan where an air ticket can’t be more than 50,000 yen…”

    It is not as simple as hopping on a plane as individual Chinese cannot even travel to Japan alone (unless they earn over 250,000RMB)…

    Japan widens tourist visa policy
    By Jane Chen | 2009-3-25

WEALTHY city tourists will be able to organize their own trips to Japan when the Japanese tourism authority starts issuing individual tourist visas to Chinese mainland people in July.

    The Japan Tourism Agency advised local travel agencies of the new visa policy yesterday, today’s Oriental Morning Post reported.
Visas will be issued to people in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou from July 1, and this will be expanded to all cities on the Chinese mainland from July next year, the report said.

    Those applying for the visas must be “well-off” with a yearly income of over 250,000 yuan (US$36,597.64), the Japanese tourism authority told the agencies. But it did not say what proof of income was required. 
People must submit their visa applications through one of 11 local travel agencies and book air tickets and hotels at the agencies.

    The Tourism Agency has set the income requirement to prevent tourists illegally overstaying, industry insiders said.
The agency hopes the new visa policy will attract 250,000 more tourists from the Chinese mainland each year in addition to the current 1 million.
But local travel agencies doubt that the new policy will work, suggesting the high income requirement will be a hindrance.

Japan’s earlier introduction of family visas for Chinese tourists had little appeal for local tourists, they said.
Before that the Japanese government only issued tourist visas to groups of between five and 40 Chinese.
Japan started offering group visas from March last year to tourists traveling by themselves or in family groups. But only 10 people from four families had used this by the end of the year.

Travel agencies said that traveling to Japan by oneself or in small groups is much more expensive than joining a group tour.
Japan will ask an outside company to handle part of the visa work next year to make the process more efficient, the Oriental Morning Post reported.


    I do not know what the fees for brokering a trainee visa must be but I guess there would be a bond in case of overstaying/running away in among other ‘administration’ fees. 3 months salary seems about average when compared to the price it costs for say a Filipino domestic helper to work in HK for example.

  • I like this comment by level3 above:

    “It’s not a “population problem”, it’s a “Japanese-race population problem” to them.”

    This hits it right on the head. But eventually, Japan will have to give in and accept foreigners to solve the pension problem. It is inevitable. The question is, how long will they keep their head buried in the sand? They are going to have to go through a tough period of redefining what it is to be Japanese, just as the British had to post-war when the country was flooded with South Asians and Caribbeans. Alternatively, they are going to have to make some dramatic policies to encourage people to have children because it is just so tough to have more than 2 kids in Japan at the moment.

  • To me, it looks like the jigsaw puzzle pieces of an indentured servitude.

    And in the 1947 Constitution, Japan gave up the ability to make indentured servitudes unless it was as the result of a prison sentence. (A sentence after trial.)

    When is the ruling government going to accept its bitter defeat of 1945? Rather than spitefully [invective deleted] go around trying to “undo” the ugly legacies of Japanese history? (Tamogami, et al.)

    As the great Jiro Shirazu allegedly told MacArthur, “just because Japan lost the war, I didn’t think it meant we became slaves!”

    Well, no one else became slaves, either. That was something [people who hire Trainees] tried (try?) to do . . .

  • The entire trainee system should be either re-written or terminated. It seems that whoever created this system meant only to exploit people for their cheap labor, with the option to terminate their employment and send them packing, legally.

  • Meanwhile regarding the Indonesian caregivers program…

    Japan may fail to meet planned goal for accepting Indonesian nurses
    Kyodo News Friday 17th April 2009

    TOKYO —
    Japan may be unable to accept as many Indonesian nurses and caregivers this fiscal year as agreed under a bilateral agreement because there are far fewer jobs on offer for them at Japanese hospitals and care facilities, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday. Under the economic partnership agreement reached in 2007, Japan is to accept up to 792 Indonesians in fiscal 2009, which began this month—the second year of the EPA program. But the number of jobs offered so far by Japanese hospitals and care facilities totaled only 169 as of April 1, they said.

    The limited number of job offers can apparently be attributed to the burden on facilities of supporting the Indonesian workers, including Japanese language education, and Japan’s acceptance of similar workers from the Philippines starting from this fiscal year. Under the EPA program, Japan is expected to accept up to 400 nurses and up to 600 caregivers over two years starting from fiscal 2008.

    A total of 208 Indonesian workers came to work in Japan in the first year of the program. Around 1,000 nurses and caregivers in Indonesia have registered as applicants to work in Japan.

    — Thanks! Please also include link next time.

  • I came across this company regarding the ‘trainee’ visa… as an example to help understand the amount of debts accrued as stated in the OP.

    ACROSEED Industrial Training Program Support System\

    Fees: Inviting from overseas = 294,000 JPY… (which is almost twice their fee for a visa for a specialist in International Humanities.)

  • Apologies the Japan Times is running the Kyodo article today-

    Meanwhile the Asahi picks up on the ‘Japan’s acceptance of similar workers from the Philippines’ which were ‘attributed to’ in the Kyodo piece…

    Fewer Filipino nurses, caregivers

    The number of Filipino nurses and caregivers scheduled to come to Japan in May is expected to be less than 300, far short of the 450 health workers agreed to under a bilateral economic partnership deal.

    The lower-than-predicted showing is due largely to inadequate preparations in handling an unexpectedly large number of applications for the positions in Japan.

    The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration failed to set criteria for narrowing down candidates from the 5,768 applicants, and created a shortlist of 552 prospective candidates principally on a first-come, first-served basis.(IHT/Asahi: April 18,2009)

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