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33 Myanmar trainees leave jobs, claim refugee status

(Yomiuri: February 7, 2015 – p.1)


 Thirty-three technical trainees from Myanmar disappeared from job sites in Ibaraki Prefecture last year (from June to December) and later applied for refugee status, sources disclosed.


 Following the revelation that a Nepalese broker taught other Nepalese how to create false refugee applications, the Immigration Bureau believes it is likely other foreign nationals are doing the same so they can find better jobs.


 Since a revision was made in 2010, the system has been granting applicants for refugee status — even technical trainees who leave their jobs — permission to work elsewhere for six months.


 The trainees were being supervised by Hasaki Kokusai Koryu Kyodo Kumiai, an organization based in Kamisu, Ibaraki Prefecture.


 The group said it accepted 35 Myanmar trainees and set them up with jobs, such as those at marine product processing plants, from December 2013 to May 2014.


 But in June, three of them stopped showing up for work. Almost every month after that, a few more would disappear.


 Apart from two trainees who returned home due to illness, the remaining 33 had vanished by December.


 All of the remaining 33 trainees have applied for refugee status. Their ages range from 22 to 34 years, and 23 are men.


 Most left just after payday, the organization said. Some were heard talking about opportunities to make better money in Tokyo, where hourly wages are higher.


 The group said it has since learned some of the trainees are working in Gunma Prefecture.


 According to the organization, since last summer it has been unable to contact the company in Yangon that sent the trainees to Japan.


 Another organization in nearby Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, said 25 of the 34 trainees it accepted from the same Yangon company have since disappeared.


 Last year, an estimated 434 people from Myanmar applied for refugee status. Myanmar accounted for the fourth-highest number after Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka. (Translated by Yomiuri/edited by MATT)

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