US State Department report 2011: “Japan’s Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking'”


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  Pretty self explanatory.  Japan’s “Trainee” program is now acknowledged by a significant authority on the subject to contribute to human trafficking.  Read on.  The U.S. State Department report text in full after articles from the Asahi and the Yomiuri.  Arudou Debito


U.S. State Department blasts Japan in human trafficking report
2011/06/30 The Asahi Shimbun

WASHINGTON–The U.S. State Department sharply criticized Japan’s industrial training and technical internship program in its annual report on human trafficking, citing various abuses against foreign trainees by their employers.

The Trafficking in Persons Report, released June 27, urged the Japanese government to dedicate “more government resources to anti-trafficking efforts.”

Referring to the “foreign trainees program,” the report noted “the media and NGOs continued to report abuses including debt bondage, restrictions on movement, unpaid wages … elements which contribute to … trafficking.”

The State Department recommended the Japanese government strengthen efforts to investigate, prosecute and punish acts of forced labor, including those that fall within the foreign trainee program.

The latest report covered 184 countries and regions, the largest number ever. They were classified into four categories–Tier 3, the worst rating, Tier 2 Watch List, Tier 2, and Tier 1, countries whose governments fully comply with standards set under the U.S. trafficking victims protection act.

Japan was ranked Tier 2, second from the top category, for the seventh consecutive year. Tier 2 indicates countries and regions whose governments do not fully meet the minimum standards in protecting victims of human trafficking, but are making efforts to comply with the standards.

The report said, “Japan is a destination, source, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.


Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking’
The Yomiuri Shimbun, (Jun. 29, 2011)
Kentaro Nakajima / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent, Courtesy of JK

WASHINGTON–The U.S. State Department said in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report that some conditions faced by participants in Japan’s foreign trainee program were similar to those seen in human trafficking operations.

According to criteria set under the U.S. trafficking victims protection act, enacted in 2000, the report released Monday classified 184 countries and territories into four categories: Tier 3, the worst rating; Tier 2 Watch List; Tier 2; and Tier 1.

Japan was rated Tier 2 for the seventh consecutive year. Tier 2 indicates countries and territories whose governments do not fully meet the act’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to do so.

Twenty-three countries, including North Korea, were classified as Tier 3.

Regarding conditions for foreign trainees in Japan, the report noted “the media and NGOs continued to report abuses including debt bondage, restrictions on movement, unpaid wages, overtime, fraud and contracting workers out to different employers–elements which contribute to situations of trafficking.”

The Japanese government has not officially recognized the existence of such problems, the report said.

It also said Japan “did not identify or provide protection to any victims of forced labor.”

The foreign trainee program, run by a government-related organization, is designed to help foreign nationals, mainly from China and Southeast Asian nations, who want to learn technology and other skills by working for Japanese companies.

The majority of trainees are Chinese, who according to the report “pay fees of more than 1,400 dollars to Chinese brokers to apply for the program and deposits of up to 4,000 dollars and a lien on their home.”

The report said a NGO survey of Chinese trainees in Japan found “some trainees reported having their passports and other travel documents taken from them and their movements controlled to prevent escape or communication.”



Courtesy GW, JK, SS, and others.

Trafficking in Persons Report 2011
JAPAN (Tier 2)

Japan is a destination, source, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Male and female migrant workers from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and other Asian countries are sometimes subject to conditions of forced labor. Some women and children from East Asia, Southeast Asia, and in previous years, Eastern Europe, Russia, South America, and Latin America who travel to Japan for employment or fraudulent marriage are forced into prostitution. During the reporting period, there was a growth in trafficking of Japanese nationals, including foreign-born children of Japanese citizens who acquired nationality. In addition, traffickers continued to use fraudulent marriages between foreign women and Japanese men to facilitate the entry of these women into Japan for forced prostitution. Government and NGO sources report that there was an increase in the number of children identified as victims of trafficking. Japanese organized crime syndicates (the Yakuza) are believed to play a significant role in trafficking in Japan, both directly and indirectly. Traffickers strictly control the movements of victims, using debt bondage, threats of violence or deportation, blackmail, and other coercive psychological methods to control victims. Victims of forced prostitution sometimes face debts upon commencement of their contracts as high as $50,000 and most are required to pay employers additional fees for living expenses, medical care, and other necessities, leaving them predisposed to debt bondage. “Fines” for misbehavior added to their original debt, and the process that brothel operators used to calculate these debts was not transparent. Some of the victims identified during the reporting period were forced to work in exploitative conditions in strip clubs and hostess bars, but were reportedly not forced to have sex with clients. Japan is also a transit country for persons trafficked from East Asia to North America. Japanese men continue to be a significant source of demand for child sex tourism in Southeast Asia.

Although the Government of Japan has not officially recognized the existence of forced labor within the Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship Program (the “foreign trainee program”), the media and NGOs continue to report abuses including debt bondage, restrictions on movement, unpaid wages and overtime, fraud, and contracting workers out to different employers – elements which contribute to situations of trafficking. The majority of trainees are Chinese nationals who pay fees of more than $1,400 to Chinese brokers to apply for the program and deposits – which are now illegal – of up to $4,000 and a lien on their home. An NGO survey of Chinese trainees in Japan, conducted in late 2010, found that workers’ deposits are regularly seized by the brokers if they report mistreatment or attempt to leave the program. Some trainees also reported having their passports and other travel documents taken from them and their movements controlled to prevent escape or communication.

The Government of Japan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Although Japan provided a modest grant to IOM for the repatriation of foreign victims identified in Japan, the government’s resources dedicated specifically to assist victims of trafficking were low, particularly relative to Japan’s wealth and the size of its trafficking problem. During the year, the government published a manual for law enforcement and judicial officers on identifying trafficking victims and developed a Public Awareness Roadmap to increase prevention of trafficking in Japan. The government also reported some efforts to punish and prevent trafficking of women for forced prostitution. Nonetheless, the government made inadequate efforts to address abuses in the foreign trainee program despite credible reports of mistreatment of foreign workers. Although the government took some steps to reduce practices that increase the vulnerability of these workers to forced labor, the government reported poor law enforcement against forced labor crimes and did not identify or provide protection to any victims of forced labor. In addition, Japan’s victim protection structure for forced prostitution remains weak given the lack of services dedicated specifically to victims of trafficking.

Recommendations for Japan: Dedicate more government resources to anti-trafficking efforts, including dedicated law enforcement units, trafficking-specific shelters, and legal aid for victims of trafficking; consider drafting and enacting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law prohibiting all forms of trafficking and prescribing sufficiently stringent penalties; significantly increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and assign sufficiently stringent jail sentences to acts of forced labor, including within the foreign trainee program, and ensure that abuses reported to labor offices are referred to criminal authorities for investigation; enforce bans on deposits, punishment agreements, withholding of passports, and other practices that contribute to forced labor in the foreign trainee program; continue to increase efforts to enforce laws and stringently punish perpetrators of forced prostitution; make greater efforts to proactively investigate and, where warranted, punish government complicity in trafficking or trafficking-related offenses; further expand and implement formal victim identification procedures and train personnel who have contact with individuals arrested for prostitution, foreign trainees, or other migrants on the use of these procedures to identify a greater number of trafficking victims; ensure that victims are not punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; establish protection policies for all victims of trafficking, including male victims and victims of forced labor; ensure that protection services, including medical and legal services, are fully accessible to victims of trafficking by making them free and actively informing victims of their availability; and more aggressively investigate and, where warranted, prosecute and punish Japanese nationals who engage in child sex tourism.


The Japanese government took modest, but overall inadequate, steps to enforce laws against trafficking during the reporting period; while the government reportedly increased its law enforcement efforts against forced prostitution, it did not report any efforts to address forced labor. Japan does not have a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, but Japan’s 2005 amendment to its criminal code, which prohibits the buying and selling of persons, and a variety of other criminal code articles and laws, could be used to prosecute some trafficking offenses. However, it is unclear if the existing legal framework is sufficiently comprehensive to criminalize all severe forms of trafficking in persons. These laws prescribe punishments ranging from one to 10 years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and generally commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes. During the reporting period, the government reported 19 investigations for offenses reported to be related to trafficking, resulting in the arrest of 24 individuals under a variety of laws, including immigration and anti-prostitution statutes. Given the incomplete nature of the government’s data, it is not clear how many of these involve actual trafficking offenses. The government convicted 14 individuals of various trafficking-related offenses, though most were convicted under statutes other than those for human trafficking crimes. Of these 14 convicted offenders, six received non-suspended jail sentences ranging from 2.5 to 4.5 years plus fines, six received suspended jail sentences of approximately one to two years plus fines, and one was ordered to only pay a fine. Ten cases were not prosecuted for lack of evidence. These law enforcement efforts against sex forms of trafficking are an increase from the five convictions reported last year. The National Police Agency (NPA), Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Immigration, and the Public Prosecutor’s office regularly trained officers on trafficking investigation and prosecution techniques, including training programs conducted by IOM and NGOs. In July 2010, the government distributed a 10-page manual to assist law enforcement, judicial and other government officers in identifying and investigating trafficking offenses and implementing victim protection measures.

Nonetheless, Japan made inadequate efforts to criminally investigate and punish acts of forced labor. Article 5 of Japan’s Labor Standards Law prohibits forced labor and prescribes a penalty of one to 10 years’ imprisonment or a fine ranging from $2,400 to $36,000, but is generally limited to acts committed by the employer. A July 2010 government ordinance bans the practices of requiring deposits from applicants to the foreign trainee program and imposing fines for misbehavior or early termination. Despite the availability of these prohibitions, however, authorities failed to arrest, prosecute, convict, or sentence to jail any individual for forced labor or other illegal practices contributing to forced labor in the foreign trainee program. The government investigated only three cases of suspected forced labor during the reporting period. Most cases of abuse taking place under the foreign trainee program are settled out of court or through administrative or civil hearings, resulting in penalties which are not sufficiently stringent or reflective of the heinous nature of the crime, such as fines. For example, in November 2010, the Labor Standards Office determined that a 31-year-old Chinese trainee officially died due to overwork; although he had worked over 80 hours per week for 12 months preceding his death without full compensation, the company received only a $6,000 fine as punishment and no individual was sentenced to imprisonment or otherwise held criminally responsible for his death.

In addition, the government failed to address government complicity in trafficking offenses. Although corruption remains a serious concern in the large and socially accepted entertainment industry in Japan, which includes the prostitution industry, the government did not report investigations, arrests, prosecutions, convictions, or jail sentences against any official for trafficking-related complicity during the reporting period.


The Government of Japan identified more victims of sex trafficking than last year, but its overall efforts to protect victims of trafficking, particularly victims of forced labor, remained weak. During the reporting period, 43 victims of trafficking for sexual purposes were identified, including a male victim – an increase from the 17 victims reported last year, though similar to the number identified in 2008 (37), and lower than the number of victims identified in each of the years from 2005 to 2007. Japanese authorities produced a manual entitled, “How to Treat Human Trafficking Cases: Measures Regarding the Identification of Victims” that was distributed to government agencies in July 2010 to identify victims of trafficking. The manual’s focus, however, appears to be primarily on identifying the immigration status of foreign migrants and their methods of entering Japan, rather than identifying indicators of nonconsensual exploitation of the migrants. It is also unclear if this manual led to the identification of any victims and whether it was used widely throughout the country. Some victims were reportedly arrested or detained before authorities identified them as trafficking victims. Japan failed to identify any victims of forced labor during the reporting period despite ample evidence that many workers in the foreign trainee program face abuses indicative of forced labor. The government has no specific protection policy for victims of forced labor and it has never identified a victim of labor trafficking. Moreover, services provided to identified victims of trafficking for forced prostitution were inadequate. Japan continues to lack dedicated shelters for victims of trafficking. Of the identified victims, 32 received care at government shelters for domestic violence victims – Women’s Consulting Centers (WCCs) – but these victims reportedly faced restrictions on movement outside of these multi-purpose shelters, and inadequate services inside them. Due to limitations on these shelters’ space and language capabilities, WCCs sometimes referred victims to government-subsidized NGO shelters. For instance, due to the government’s continued lack of protection services for male victims of trafficking, the one male victim identified during the reporting period received services at an NGO shelter. IOM provided protection to 20 foreign victims of trafficking during the reporting period with government funding. Although the government paid for victims’ psychological services and related interpretation costs in the WCC shelters, some victims at NGO shelters did not receive this care. A government program exists to pay for all medical services incurred while a victim resides at the WCC, but the system for administering these services is not well organized and, as a result, some victims of trafficking did not receive all available care. The government-funded Legal Support Center provides pro bono legal services to destitute victims of crime, including trafficking victims, but information about available service was not always provided to victims in the government and NGO shelters. If a victim is a child, the WCC works with a local Child Guidance Center to provide shelter and services to the victim; the government reported that one victim was assisted in this manner during the reporting period. Furthermore, while authorities reported encouraging victims’ participation in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, victims were not provided with any incentives for participation, such as the ability to work or otherwise generate income. In addition, the relative confinement of the WCC shelters and the inability of victims to work led most victims to seek repatriation. A long-term residency visa is available to persons identified as trafficking victims who fear returning to their home country, but only one person has ever applied for or received this benefit.


The Japanese government made limited efforts to prevent trafficking in persons during the reporting period. The Inter-ministerial Liaison Committee continued to meet, chaired by the cabinet secretary, and agreed on a “Public Awareness Roadmap” and released posters and distributed brochures aimed at raising awareness of trafficking. More than 33,000 posters and 50,000 leaflets were distributed to local governments, police stations, community centers, universities, immigration offices, and airports. NGOs, however, reported that this campaign had little effect and failed to reach the consumers of commercial sexual services. The Immigration Bureau conducted an online campaign to raise awareness of trafficking and used flyers to encourage local immigration offices to be alert for indications of trafficking. In July 2010, the government amended the rules of the foreign trainee program to allow first-year participants access to the Labor Standards Office and to ban the use of deposits and penalties for misbehavior or early termination, in order to prevent conditions of forced labor within this program and provide increased legal redress to participants of the program. The government did not report its efforts to enforce the ban on deposits and it is unclear whether the new rules contributed to a reduction in the number of cases of misconduct committed by the organizations that receive the interns. NGO sources report that brokers have instructed participants to deny the existence of these deposits or “punishment agreements” to Japanese authorities. The government continued to fund a number of anti-trafficking projects around the world. For years, a significant number of Japanese men have traveled to other Asian countries, particularly the Philippines, Cambodia, and Thailand, to engage in sex with children. Japan has the legal authority to prosecute Japanese nationals who engage in child sex tourism abroad and arrested one man under this law in February 2011; a total of eight persons have been convicted under this law since 2002. Japan is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.



12 comments on “US State Department report 2011: “Japan’s Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking'”

  • Thank goodness for that, and even in The Gomiuri as well!

    I trust this will be seen by some as gaiatsu and the Yanks not understanding “Asian Values.”

    Of course, the U.S. is hardly a shining beacon either, using millions of undocumented immigrants as disposable labor for agricultural, household servant and casual labor sector (domestics, kitchen/ hotel hands, etc.) markets/ industries.

  • “Of course, the U.S. is hardly a shining beacon either, using millions of undocumented immigrants as disposable labor for agricultural, household servant and casual labor sector (domestics, kitchen/ hotel hands, etc.) markets/ industries.”

    Agreed. This kind of assessment rings hollow coming from the US.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    But the majority of participants in the program in Japan were Chinese (prior to Fukushima), so now China has the international clout to prompt the US to criticize Japan on this issue.

  • “Of course, the U.S. is hardly a shining beacon either, using millions of undocumented immigrants as disposable labor for agricultural, household servant and casual labor sector (domestics, kitchen/ hotel hands, etc.) markets/ industries.”

    Don’t you understand the difference?? In the U.S. it’s ILLEGAL and OPPOSED. In Japan even if it’s technically illegal, it’s not enforced; and it’s probably more supported than opposed. Ever hear how some people say things like “racism is everywhere, Japan is no different, blah blah blah.”? It’s everywhere, but the difference is on the attitude that the country and the law takes on it. In one country, as a victim you have recourse and the law will back you up; in another, you don’t and the law won’t.

  • Actually, it is more accurate to say that millions of illegals use the U.S. The scale of the problem is also unimaginable in Japan. Imagine if, in Japan, there were upwards of 4 or 5 million illegal workers around the country. That would be comparable to the situation in the States.

    The one common element between the American and Japanese approaches is the lack of enforcement on employers who use illegal labour. If the jobs dried up, then the problem would go a long way towards disappearing.

    — Let’s try to avoid comparisons between Japan and the U.S. here and appraise the report on its own claims.

  • Does everyone know the rules of this game?
    Trafficking Protocol defines Trafficking as transporting people for exploitation. But exploitation is not clearly defined. Payment of wages or mutual consent is irrelevant in determining exploitation. So, someone calls something “exploitation”, it is exploitation. For example, if there is a minimum wage factory out there that “exploits” workers, the local bus company that transport workers to the factory is a human trafficker. Or, if someone says any job in China is exploitation, any worker transportation in and into China is a human trafficking. How is it possible to distinguish a job from exploitation?

    With all of its good intentions, this game has gone too far from its original goal of preventing true trafficking.

    — Thanks as always for leaping to the GOJ’s defense, HO. It’s always informative to have the Gaijin Handlers’ view on things. It’s just as good a game as you claim others are playing.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    “the difference is on the attitude that the country and the law takes on it. In one country, as a victim you have recourse and the law will back you up; in another, you don’t and the law won’t.”

    Agreed. This apathetic attitude pretty much articulates for an undying phenomenon of JP cultural uniqueness–a.k.a. “Galapagos mentality.”

  • Before moving to Japan, I worked in a trade-related company in the States. One of the items we handled was lettuce from California exported to McDonald’s Japan. I often went to the lettuce fields for inspection, and saw the Mexican migrant workers first hand. Their work ethic always amazed me.

    Every once in while, there’s news about farmers not having enough workers because of a crackdown on the migrant workers, and unemployed Americans sent out to the fields to try working — and failing miserably.

    (Here’s the latest — cucumber harvest in Georgia:

    All the people calling for an end to illegal immigration — without the immigrants cutting lettuce, how do those same people expect to get salad fixings?

    Anyways, I am caught in the middle in this ‘trainees’ issue. On one hand, as a foreigner in Japan I support fair treatment for fellow foreigners. On the other hand, I sympathize with the farmers.

    A buddy of mine here in Japan’s countryside employees some trainees for their lettuce biz. The press highlights one side of the story — trainees being used as slave labor. But there is another side — trainees treated fairly and given good opportunities, but then taking advantage of the situation by demanding more overtime. The buddy had the courage to give their side of the story, as follows:

    “Yes, I am aware of these terrible things they mention in the press about the situations of the so-called trainees.

    And I know [Debito-san]; I have once read a similar article on Japan Times, and in fact I sent a letter to the editor indicating our own situation [on our] farms, in which I told about our lucky environment on getting diligent workers and making good relations between the” trainees” and us. But also that the immigration law prohibit us from making them work overtime, which is a large pity both for the trainees and us. The “trainees” are actually workers who want to earn Japanese Yen, and we are actually farmers whose work cannot be done without seasonal workers, so between them and us the balance of supply and demand is matched. Only that the Japanese system of categorizing them as trainees makes the matter complicated and full of limits in employing (oops, accepting) them . I remember mentioning in the letter that we are ready to pay them an appropriate wage once we are free to make them work overtime.

    Regarding the inability of substituting jobless people for the went-back-home trainees, it reminds me of the time of the recent depression caused by the Lehman Shock. Initially, the reason we had been forced to accept the trainees from China was the shortage of Japanese seasonal workers.

    There had been less and less people in the Japanese society who had enough guts to work with us through this hectic farm labor. Then there had been the depression, and one might think the applying phone for our help-wanted –ads would ring. True enough, there were busy phone calls from people without work for the ads applying for the farming labor,( My spouse and I were content with our “trainees”, so didn’t put out the ads.) However, many of those actually came were not resilient enough, as it had been for many years before, to work outside with us. In our case, it’s not the wages that stops Japanese workers from being hired but rather, the guts to work with us which Chinese farmers have and Japanese workers do not.

    This year it is our 6th year to work with Chinese men, and as always I am fascinated by their work and mind-sets. It might be some kind of a tactic of the Chinese agent, but their calling us Otosan, Okasan also fills my empty nested heart,haha. I feel happy everyday to go out working with them.

    Having said that I am happy and believe the same to our Chinese boys, I know what the articles say about exploitation and such are mostly not untrue. Only it is complicated an issue and cannot be told only from one side. One thing I doubt is a kind of claim which former Chinese trainees say about forced overtime work. On the contrary, they might have pushed their employer to give them the overtime works. I think there are shortages in the present immigration law, which makes us unable to talk openly and search for solution. ( This year the situation has got a lot better, because the immigration bureau allows us the overtime work.)

    Even if we have good relationships with the trainee boys and both they and us agree every year on the wages, there still are some murky areas regarding the Chinese agent which we choose not to push.( Coward as we might be, we want the labor, and as far as the workers-employers relationships go smoothly, it is OK for us.)

    Your experience on the farmlands in California reminded me of when a friend of mine sent me yet another newspaper article of the kind. He pointed out that the exploitation cases in Japan was similar to those of the US towards Mexican laborers. Now I know that the situations are indeed similar but not in a simple way. Similar in a way in which enforcing a shortcoming law may result in lose-lose situation.”

    — A few questions to be asked of this testimony:

    1) If the “Trainees” were mere replacements for apparently less diligent seasonal Japanese workers, why were the “Trainees” brought in under a visa status that legally exempt them from having the same labor rights? [I’ll tell you why: That would make them cheaper and more exploitable. The only way you’d keep 3K Japanese industry working here is if you brought in people who made meager wages; this was known all along by the designers, such as Keidanren’s Inoue Hiroshi, and other industrial proponents of this program.]

    2) If the “Trainees” were in fact replacements for seasonal Japanese workers, why were they brought in on non-seasonal visas?

    3) If the “Trainees” are as happy as he says they are, why do we have NGOs and labor union leaders (such as Torii Ippei, cf. end of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES) saying that the system is so rife with abusable loopholes that it is “goku mare” for an employer not to use them?

    4) As for Too Tall’s statement, “All the people calling for an end to illegal immigration — without the immigrants cutting lettuce, how do those same people expect to get salad fixings?” Well, how do, say, First-World consumers expect to get their super-cheap T-shirts, sneakers, and coffee without near-slave wage working conditions in the Third World? Imagine Nike or any other multinational trying to make this argument, and it has long been debunked by people who have led the charge for more ethical working conditions overseas. People who already have the higher standard of living will just have to learn how to pay more for their super-cheap salad fixings, sob.

    If your contact is treating his “Trainees” equitably, bravo. But evidence has long mounted that most don’t, systematically.

  • “Their work ethic always amazed me”

    I think that statement has become overrated and is a generalization. Why? Because most of the NJ I know, including myself, must do more than the locals in Japan just to get by and get a job worth making a career of. Its not my “work ethic” its what I must do to survive, I must get every cert. or skill I can, and this appears to be a hard work ethic to those who dont need to. First wave immigrants in the U.S. are doing the same thing, out of desperation, and they see opportunity where others dont because of this desparation. Desparate times make you look hard at things. One area that they might differ in is how they can collaborate together to start a resturant etc. Other than that I think we are all the same and it doesnt have much to do with work ethic.

  • the buddy of Too Tall says:

    Hello, I am the buddy of Too Tall. We form a group to hire Chinese migrant workers through a Chinese agent, and this is our 6th year. Initially I was reluctant to have them, because their stay was too long compared to that of seasonal workers hired only for the busiest time.But then,6 years ago, once they came to me and called me,”okasan” and treated me like they do back in their Chinese agricultural districts where the elders especially women were given helping hands readily, I immidiately became fond of them.Since then I enjoy farming with them every year. Of course there are times of misunderstandings and such, but they are the same as when we used to hire seasonal Japanese workers, and with the help of the Chinese agent’s translator, each of them has been solved each time.

    Having said that, I would like to answer the questions from Debito-san from my position.
    1) It has been inconvenient for us farmers,too, that the “treainees” not being applied the labor standards law,but applied the rules of the “trainee program”. It prohibited us from making them work overtime. This year the curriculum has been changed and we can openly take them to the farm with us before dawn, to our relief as well as the “trainees'”. The wages are calculated based on the minimum standard wages designed by each of the prefectures.

    2) This also should be corrected if they are to be workers instead of ” trainees.” It would be too expensive for us employers to hire them from non-faiming season as we do now. It would be a win-win situation for both the migrant workers and farmers if they come only in busy seasons, work hard, paid accordingly.

    3) As for this question, I have tried to study the situation by watching the videos on the links attached etc., and thought through while working on the farm chatting with the Chinese boys. Well, my answer is; I cannot tell about the things I don’t know. One thing I can say is, even the present rules applied to “trainees” have a lot of loopholes, it is hard to treat them badly.This is because, as far as the cases I know, they come in a large group led by a Chinese agent who selected the workers, taught them the basics on working in Japan, and constantly sends translators to our farms to see the workers’ conditions and seek for the employers’ demands.It would be risking a threat from a group of angry Chinese workers if the working conditions were so bad.

    As for the comment by Jim, I might be naive, but I believe the mid-set of our Chinese men are beautiful. It is something we treasured back in the , say, early Showa era and has lost since. They express their feelings straightforwardly, which is something we Japanese are too shy to show. eg.eagerness to work hard, or earn money, eargerness to show respect to their Japanese “otosan,okasan”, a ready smile even to the least funny jokes etc. Please do not get me wrong, but I think the positions of Jim or Too Tall are different from those of the immigrant workers in regard of their motives to be in Japan. The immigrant workers’ goal, I understand, is to earn money to get back home, which I believe doesn’t explain your goals. Sorry if the expression should sound rude, it’s the last thing I intend.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Too Tall, and A Buddy of Too Tall certainly seem to get off on the whole ‘I’m a kind plantation owner, see my happy Mister Tom’s’ gig, don’t they? NEWSFLASH: your Chinese workers are scared of you, and need the money! Duh!

  • Yeah, Buddy of Two tall has got off too lightly; I mean look at this bit at the end:
    “One thing I can say is, even the present rules applied to “trainees” have a lot of loopholes, it is hard to treat them badly.”

    What? Why is it hard? Or maybe it means “Aww shucks, I feel sorry for my trainees, its hard to abuse them…”

    The problem with this bad habit of relying on the goodwill of individual paternalist Neo Confucian employers to “take care of” their employees, instead of having proper enforced laws, is that too many abusive employers have taken advantage of them. Thus, laws, enforcement, and trainee rights are now needed.

    1. Since when have the “rules”, if not enforced, stopped abuse?
    2. If an employer is determined to abuse, he ll just take away their passports and limit their contact with the outside world/ways to complain
    3. There are plenty of abuse cases.

    So after re reading, what planet are Too Tall and Buddy on? Jibun dake no sekai?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>