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This was in my “drafts” folder for years. Archiving it for the record without commentary from me. Debito (April 2021).
Gov’t to tighten controls on foreign trainee program
Japan Today NATIONAL JAN. 31, 2015 – TOKYO — Courtesy of CB
The government has announced plans to create a special agency to oversee the foreign trainee program which has come in for criticism for exploiting foreign workers.
According to the government, the agency—which will have legal authority—will re-evaluate the purpose of the Technical Intern Training Program to provide interns with a wider variety of occupations as well as the possibility of extending their work period, Sankei Shimbun reported Friday.
More specifically, the training program will be extended from 3 years to 5 years. Some occupations related to nursing and care-giving will be added to the current 69 categories.
In response to increasing concerns over human rights violation, there will be more measures to protect employees, a government spokesman said.
The most common complaints include employers delaying payments, taking workers’ passports, pressuring trainees to work long hours and not letting them leave their dormitories overnight, Sankei reported.
To deal with such cases, the agency will examine contracts between employers and agencies that arrange for foreign trainees to come to Japan. If violations are found, the agency will face the loss of its license.
The Japan International Training Occupation Organization will also be given more authority to supervise companies that accept trainees.
The government plans to submit a bill to create the supervisory agency to the Diet this spring.
Poignant commentary from Japan Today readers:
SumoBoy: So in other words, very little will be done. First off, we have yet another new government agency that will “oversee” this problem. In other words, some ex-MITI bureaucrat will get himself a nice cushy amakudari job. The number of companies that can exploit these workers will increase from previously and contracts will be extended, which will benefit the employer more than the employee.
Finally we have this:
To deal with cases of abuse, the agency will examine contracts between employers and agencies that arrange for foreign trainees to come to Japan. If violations are found, the agency will face the loss of its license.
So this new agency will examine the “contract” of a worker complaining of doing 40 hours over the extra overtime a week. But as everyone can see, the “contract” clearly states the worker shall only work a maximum of 35 hours a week. So since the “contract” is within legal guidelines it’s “Nothing to see here, move along.”
M3M3M3: Maybe I’m just cynical but creating a ‘special agency’ is also a way to insulate the government from criticism. If we hear more horror stories, the Minister of Labour will now be able to point fingers at the agency and say ‘I had no idea, but it’s very regrettable that they didn’t do their job properly’. I don’t understand why the Ministry of Labour can’t take direct responsibility for oversight of this.