• Kyodo


A clothing manufacturer in Ehime Prefecture was stripped Tuesday of its license to host foreign trainees under a government program, following a violation of immigration law by two Chinese workers and a company executive.

It marked the first revocation since a new law aimed at improving the program took effect in November. Epoch, headquartered in the city of Uwajima, will not be allowed to accept foreign trainees for the next five years, according to the justice and labor ministries.

The executive was arrested in April on suspicion of helping two Chinese trainees work beyond their visa limitations. The two were also arrested for allegedly violating immigration law.

Epoch and the executive were each ordered the following month to pay a fine of ¥300,000.

Japan launched its training program in 1993 with the aim of assisting other countries in the development of their economies. But the scheme, designed to transfer abroad some of the country’s industrial and agricultural skills, has sometimes drawn criticism at home and internationally that it is a cover for importing cheap labor.

To ensure proper management of foreign trainees, the government enacted the new law to strengthen supervision of companies and organizations involved in the program.

Epoch had already accepted three other Chinese trainees, but following the revocation of the license, the ministries said, the three Chinese trainees need to decide whether to return home or find a new place to work.

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