The government on Thursday revoked the credentials of a body that supervises companies accepting foreign trainees in the first such move since the program was introduced last year.
Creative Net, a cooperative association based in Kasai, Hyogo Prefecture, was found to have submitted false records on training at three companies it had been supervising. In a related move, the Justice Ministry also withdrew its approvals for intern training plans for a total of 11 Thai women who had been accepted by the companies.
Under the government’s Technical Intern Training Program, foreign trainees are required to take Japanese-language courses and receive guidance on daily life in Japan during the first two months after they arrive in the country. They are not allowed to start working during that period.
But the three companies made their trainees work for about a month during the transition period, and Creative Net submitted false training records to the government-affiliated Organization for Technical Intern Training.
The three companies and Creative Net have all admitted to the document falsification, according to the ministry.
OTIT learned about the case after being consulted by the trainees.
Of the 11 Thai women, four have already returned to Thailand, while two others have switched employers in Japan. The remaining five are searching for a replacement company with the help of OTIT.
By March, the Justice Ministry is planning to investigate all cases that it suspects could amount to similar violations and disclose the result of its probe.
Japan introduced the training program for foreign nationals in 1993 with the stated aim of transferring skills to developing countries. But the program has been criticized for providing cover for companies that want to import cheap labor.
Amid reports of illegally long working hours and harsh conditions trainees have faced under the government program, Japan enacted a law in November last year to penalize employers who violate trainees’ human rights and require supervising organizations that connect trainees with host institutions to obtain permission from the state to operate.
About 258,000 technical interns were working in Japan as of the end of October 2017, with many working in the food, construction and farming industries.
The foreign trainees’ predicaments were highlighted again this year during Diet deliberations on amending the immigration law to accept foreign blue-collar workers.
The revised immigration law passed the Diet earlier this month and Japan is expected to start accepting more foreign workers from April.