The government set up on Tuesday a panel of experts, mainly composed of academics, municipal government chiefs and lawyers, to review the country's problematic foreign technical intern program and propose ways to improve it.

An increasing number of cases of harassment and abuse of foreign trainees on the Technical Intern Training Program has resulted in mounting criticism at home and abroad for the decades-old program, with claims that it is a cover for companies to import cheap labor rather than a program to transfer skills to developing countries.

Akihiko Tanaka, president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, a governmental aid agency, will chair the panel with 14 other members who will hold their first meeting by the end of the year, according to the Immigration Services Agency.