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A record number of employers accepting trainees from abroad under the nation’s Technical Intern Training Program violated labor laws in 2016, the labor ministry said Wednesday.

The number of factories, offices and other businesses nationwide where violations were found came to 4,004, the highest level since 2003, the year such data was first collected, the ministry said.

That is an increase of 309 from the previous year, reflecting a rise in the number of trainees.

Law violations related to illegally long working hours accounted for 24 percent of the total. Failures to take necessary safety measures came next at 19 percent, followed by cases of unpaid overtime at 14 percent.

One employer was found to have failed to pay a total of ¥24 million to 17 trainees.

In addition, joint probes carried out by the labor ministry and regional immigration bureaus of the Justice Ministry investigated 23 businesses for suspected human rights abuses involving forced labor, violence and confinement.