(Asahi: January 16, 2015 – p. 1)
A government panel calls for reviewing a foreign technical intern training program, demanding the government and the country which sends technical interns to Japan work together to ban unscrupulous staffing agencies. The government will incorporate recommendations into a bill, which will be submitted to an ordinary Diet session scheduled to be held late this month.
The outline, compiled by experts, recommends that the country dispatching the intern approve the staffing agency, which sends workers to the program, to prevent malicious practices. It also urges the Japanese government to conduct post-training research on foreign workers after they return home in cooperation with governments of their home countries.
The technical training program has been criticized for its poor management of foreign workers. For example, labor export agencies, through which they are sent, charge outrageous amounts of security money to prevent them from disappearing upon their entry to Japan. They also prohibit workers from changing employers.
The recommendations also pointed to a problem with supervising agencies – recipient organizations of foreign interns in Japan. Under the current system, they are only required to meet certain requirements. The panel of experts demands the government endorse supervising agencies and their status be canceled if they turn out to be problematic.
The outline proposed the names of problematic supervising agencies and employers be released to the public and that foreign interns change employers if they their human rights are violated. It also calls for setting up an office to extend assistance to foreign interns in their mother tongues when they have trouble with their employers.
The Japanese government seeks to increase the number of foreign technical interns to make up for personnel shortages, but the program has often been criticized for payment deferrals and long working hours. The U.S. Department of State cited in a report several cases of forced labor involving foreign interns. (Slightly abridged)