Oversight of foreign trainee program a joke: internal affairs ministry

Kyodo

The vast majority of improper practices taking place in the name of technological training for foreigners are overlooked when the companies are audited, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry revealed Friday.

Among those found involved in abusive behavior, such as nonpayment of wages, 98 percent were disregarded during the checks, the ministry said.

The ministry warned that the surveillance system has become a mere facade, urging the justice and labor ministries to improve monitoring.

The on-the-job training program was set up in 1993 to transfer Japanese knowhow to developing countries to nurture human resources there.

But “the ideal of the program, to support developing countries, differs from the reality,” an internal affairs official said. “A drastic reform is necessary.”

The program usually recruits people from regional neighbors like China, the Philippines and Vietnam to work mainly at factories and needlework plants in rural areas of Japan to provide “technological” training.

About 2,000 institutions, such as cooperative associations and agricultural cooperatives, are helping foreign applicants locate companies and farmers who are willing to train them.

The program was responsible for bringing about 142,000 foreigners to Japan in 2011. But the poor working conditions they are forced to put up with, including long hours and unpaid wages, are drawing attention throughout the country.

Local immigration authorities in 2011 found that 83 of the designated training entities had improperly managed the program. When the auditors came through, however, 81 were cleared of improper management practices during the inspections.