Hi Blog. Yet another tale about Japan’s hastily-instituted and poorly-regulated NJ guest-worker program. Procuring cheap foreign labor to keep J industry from relocating overseas or going backrupt, the Trainee and Researcher Visa program scams have resulted in various human and labor rights abuses, child labor, and now according to the article below even murder. Quick comment from me after the article:
Slain farm association official took fees from both Chinese trainees, farmers
05/28/2007 The Asahi Shimbun
CHIBA–A slain former executive of a farm association had forced Chinese trainees to pay sizable fees that had already been covered by the farmers who accepted the trainees, sources said.
The funds provided by the trainees remain largely unaccounted for, they added.
Most of about 150 Chinese workers on a farm training program offered by the Chiba Agriculture Association had paid between 40,000 yuan and 110,000 yuan (about 600,000 yen and 1.65 million yen) under the pretext of training fees and travel expenses, according to a survey conducted by the association.
“The system whose initial purpose is to transfer technologies to developing countries is being exploited as a juicy business,” Ippei Torii, general secretary of Zentoitsu Workers Union, which supports foreign workers, said of the foreign trainee-intern system.
“The government will have to tell businesses not to accept trainees from organizations that collect expensive fees from the trainees.”
The former executive was fatally stabbed in August last year in an attack that also injured two others.
A 26-year-old Chinese farm trainee, accused of murdering the executive and other charges, had been working about 50 hours a month overtime for token pay, even though the training program banned participants from taking on extra work.
After learning that the trainee told police he came to Japan after borrowing money in China, the farm association started the survey last autumn to determine how much and to whom the trainees paid such fees.
“We left everything to the former executive as far as the training program is concerned,” the association’s chairman said. “It was a lack of supervision.”
All of the Chinese trainees, except for about 10 who did not respond to the survey, said they paid money to a training center, which was established in or around 2002 in Heilongjiang province by the former executive.
The candidates for the training program took Japanese language lessons and other lectures for about four months before coming to Japan.
“I had to pay 69,600 yuan to an instructor and other officials under the name of the association,” one trainee was quoted as saying.
Another handed over documents on real estate, and the family of a third trainee made an additional payment, according to the survey.
Senior officials of the association said they had no knowledge on how the center had been operated or how the fees were collected because the late executive was solely in charge.
Since fiscal 1999, when the training program was initiated, the farm association had collected about 500,000 yen from farmers for each trainee accepted. The fees were for training and travel expenses.
“I thought I had shouldered all the expenses necessary for the trainees to come to Japan,” one farmer said. “I didn’t know they were paying fees.”
Part of the money from the trainees was transferred to an account held by a company whose board members included the late executive. Some of the funds went to another account under the name of a relative of a Chinese woman who had served as an interpreter for the former executive.
The woman, who was injured in the attack last August, told The Asahi Shimbun that trainees paid 40,000 yuan in training fees before leaving China.
In addition, 20,000 yuan in “guarantee money” was collected from their families in the second year after they came to Japan.
“But I did not know Japanese farmers were shouldering the training fees,” she said.
Japan International Training Cooperation Organization, an affiliate of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and four other ministries, is calling on organizers of training programs for foreign workers to ensure transparency in expenses involved. But there is no clear legal basis for such system. (IHT/Asahi: May 28,2007)
COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO: Even GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine, a horribly-biased screed against NJ workers, residents, and immigrants (so awful that it was removed from shelves within days of going on sale last January) had a manga about this case sympathetic to the plight of these workers. Scans below.
This is especially surprising, in light of the fact that a different manga in the same book portrays Chinese–as a people–as natural-born killers).
You know these GOJ-sponsored programs must be pretty bad when they even turn off the xenophobes! Arudou Debito in Sapporo