Yomiuri: GOJ to forbid employers from confiscating NJ passports


Hi Blog. Here’s some good news.

After much trouble with employers confiscating NJ worker passports (ostensible reasons given in the article, but much of the time it led to abuses, even slavery, with the passport retained as a Sword of Damocles to elicit compliance from workers), the GOJ looks like it will finally make the practice expressly illegal.

About time–a passport is the property of the issuing government, and not something a foreign government (or another person) can impound indefinitely. The fact that it’s been used as a weapon to keep the foreign Trainee laborer in line for nearly two decades speaks volumes about the GOJ’s will to protect people’s rights once they get here.

Glad this is finally coming on the books. Now let’s hope it gets enforced. Referential articles follow Yomiuri article:


Govt guidelines to forbid firms to keep foreign trainees’ passports
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec 18, 2007
Courtesy Jeff Korpa and Mark Schreiber

The Justice Ministry looks set to stop companies that accept foreign trainees from confiscating trainees’ passports and foreign registration certificates, ministry sources said Monday.

The toughened ministry guidelines for host companies also state that preventing foreign trainees from traveling wherever they wish to go when they are off duty is unacceptable. Firms have been curtailing the movement of workers and holding on to passports and certificates to prevent such trainees from disappearing.

The ministry will likely release the guidelines this week and will notify organizations, including commerce and industry associations, that accept foreign trainees of the new rules.

The foreign trainee system was designed to enhance international relations by introducing foreign trainees to new technology and skills, but it often has been misused as an excuse to bring unskilled workers into the country.

Commerce and industry associations and organizations of small and midsize companies accept foreign trainees, who are introduced to companies to learn skills for up to three years.

Under the current system, foreign trainees receive one year of training followed by two years as on-the-job trainees. As the training year is not considered employment, such workers are not protected by the Labor Standards Law.

The new guidelines for the entry and stay management of foreign trainees are a revised version of the 1999 guidelines.

The new guidelines prohibit host companies from using improper methods to manage foreign trainees, such as holding their passports, and foreign nationals from being accepted through brokering organizations other than via authorized organizations

Also banned are misleading advertisements for the recruitment of host companies, such as those that say foreign trainees can be used to resolve a labor shortage.

The tougher regulations are aimed at preventing commerce and industry associations from becoming nominal organizations for accepting foreign trainees. This practice has seen brokering organizations exploit foreign trainees by introducing them to companies.

To prevent overseas dispatch organizations from exploiting foreign trainees, the new guidelines also include a measure that requires host companies to refuse to accept foreign trainees in the event a foreign dispatch organization is found to have asked them to pay a large deposit. The guidelines have been revised for the first time in eight years because companies that do not not qualify to take on foreign trainees have been taking a rapidly increasing number of such workers.

Japan scheme ‘abuses foreign workers’
By Chris Hogg BBC News, Tokyo, Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Japan Times Sunday, April 29, 2007 By MARK SCHREIBER Shukan Kinyobi (April 20)

POINT OF VIEW/ Hiroshi Tanaka: Japan must open its arms to foreign workers

Nearly 10,000 foreigners disappear from job training sites in Japan 2002-2006

Govt split over foreign trainee program
Yomiuri Shimbun May 19, 2007

For starters…
Arudou Debito in Sapporo

1 comment on “Yomiuri: GOJ to forbid employers from confiscating NJ passports

  • I’d just like to leave a quick comment, so that one aspect of this article doesn’t go unnoticed. That is, the sense of entitlement that must exist for an employer to demand that an employee hand over their passport to be held hostage by the employer.

    Many of us might not really blink an eye at this because we know all too well that these things happen.

    But I’d just like to draw people’s attention to imagining the mindset of the employer who makes such a demand. (Such a demand would be unthinkable in my country of origin). In order for an employer to be able to feel entitled to make such a demand, an employer would have to be of the frame of mind that they are in some way defacto immigration police, working hand in hand with the Japanese government (or ‘people’) to retain command and control of the foreign populace. That being an employer, or even being Japanese, entitles them to control the minutiae of day to day living of non-Japanese, to control their coming and going. This kind of message is in fact circulated by the authorities – “watch your gaijin employee, he may be getting married to a Japanese under false pretences to obtain a visa”, “Watch your gaijin employee, he may be lying about his visa status”, “Watch your gaijin employee, he may be planning to leave the country”.

    For the J-apologists, take note please, that this is how a certain portion of the population have been taught to behave.


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