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“TITP trainees are not labor force,” Ministry of Justice

Technical Intern Training Program (TITP)


Yomiuri Shimbun has learned that after August this year, the Ministry of Justice has made a request in writing to “supervising organizations” of the TITP to delete from their websites expressions implying that the TITP secures labor force. The official purpose of the program is to transfer skills and technical know-how to developing countries. The ministry’s written request apparently is aimed at a smooth passage of relevant legislation for expanding the TITP at the ongoing extraordinary Diet session. Some supervising organizations have voiced their complaint, with one of them saying “everyone knows that the actual purpose [of the TITP] is to secure labor force.”


Under the TITP, supervising organizations receive foreign trainees by coordinating with sending organizations in developing countries and help trainees find employment in Japan. There are about 2,000 supervising organizations including the chambers of commerce and industry, agricultural and fisheries cooperatives. These organizations also have an overseeing role of ensuring appropriate training and providing guidance.


According the ministry, about 220 organizations were using such expressions on their websites as “increasing productivity” and “securing young labor force.” The Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO), a public interest incorporated foundation in charge of guiding supervising organizations and companies that receive foreign trainees, have also used similar expressions on their websites. Officially directed by the ministry on August 18, the Immigration Bureaus across the country sent a written notification to the JITCO and supervising organizations, requesting that they delete inappropriate expressions.


Yomiuri Shimbun obtained the ministry’s written notification that goes: “The purpose of the TITP is to help developing countries nurture human resources for their economic development, not to secure labor force for Japan; therefore, such expressions should immediately be deleted and report the deletion to the ministry.” As a result, the JITCO and many supervising organizations complied with the ministry’s notification.


Currently, lawmakers are deliberating at the extraordinary Diet session on a bill of the proper implementation of the TITP and protecting trainees. The bill is aimed at extending the training period from the current three years to five years and establishing a new organization that will oversee and guide supervising organizations and receiving companies so as to prevent unpaid wages and human rights violation, as well as creating penal regulations for violations.


During the ordinary Diet session this year, lawmakers questioned one after another on inappropriate online expressions used by supervising organizations such as “securing manpower is a more cost-efficient way under the TITP.” In order to avoid the impact of such expressions on the Diet deliberations, the ministry apparently decided to urge those organizations to delete the questionable expressions. “Since the new bill is being deliberated on at the Diet, we asked receiving organizations to adopt a respectful attitude,” said a ministry official.


“Expedient way to hide the facts


Under the TITP, it is often the case that trainees are engaged in “simple work” such as harvesting farm products, removing shells from shellfish, and gluing envelopes, which are a far cry from acquiring skills. “The TITP program is surely related to improving productivity,” said a JITCO source. “It is wrong for the ministry to hide the actual situation in an expedient way.”


Trainees themselves feel that they are working away from home unlike the stated purpose of acquiring skills and technology for their countries’ economic growth. A Chinese female trainee, who worked at a paper converting factory in Kagawa Prefecture until last month, said that she came to Japan after applying to an advertisement for migrant workers. An official of a supervising organization, who received the notification of deleting inappropriate expressions from the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, said,  “Everyone knows that the TITP actually serves as a way to secure labor force, but we have no choice but to comply with the notification.”


“This case represents a difference between the ministry that adheres to its official stance and the mindset of supervising organizations,” said Shoichi Ibusuki, co-representative of “Attorneys’ Association for Issues of the TITP Trainees,” adding: “If the ministry sticks to its official stance, it should reject all TITP cases aimed at securing labor force, but then there would be almost no trainees coming to Japan.”

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