Japan to tighten oversight of job training program for foreigners

Kyodo

Facing criticism that some Japanese firms exploit foreign trainees, the Abe administration plans to set up a new body with the power to conduct on-site inspections to enhance supervision, sources said Monday.

The administration aims to submit a bill to the Diet next year and establish the body by March 2016. It is eager to expand the program to alleviate the nation’s labor shortage.

Since the program was introduced in 1993, some employers have been accused of exploiting foreign trainees by not paying them properly or violating their human rights. Some trainees have died of suspected overwork.

Under the program designed to nurture human resources in developing nations, workers from countries such as Vietnam and China have received on-the-job training for up to three years in the textile, apparel, machinery and metal industries.

The envisioned body will have the power to conduct on-site inspections of companies accepting foreign trainees and to fine them if they reject inspections, the sources said.

It will establish a system for taking trainees’ complaints about improper practices and will consider making public the names of firms whose conduct is deemed malicious, they said.

Currently, the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization provides guidance on behalf of the government, but its guidance is not legally binding and it has been criticized as ineffective.

To increase the number of foreign trainees, the government is considering extending the traineeship period to five years for high-skilled workers and adding other types of businesses such as nursing care to the program.