Imparting Japanese technology and knowledge to developing nations is the purpose of the Technical Intern Training Program (TITP). To make the program one that can produce results, it is essential to operate the system in accordance with its initial objective.
The technical intern training law has been put into effect. The main purpose of the law is to reinforce the protection of foreign technical intern trainees who arrive in Japan to develop skills necessary for various occupations, and to expand the TITP system.
Measures include strengthening the monitoring of such wrongdoings as not paying wages, and extending the training period at exemplary organizations that accept intern trainees, from three years to five years. Another element is increasing the prescribed number of trainees to be accepted under the system.
The main body tasked with watching for wrongdoings committed by hosts for trainees is a newly established government-authorized corporation called the Organization for Technical Intern Training (OTIT). This organ checks intern training plans arranged for respective intern trainees by corporations and other host organizations and conducts on-site inspections. If any host is not following its plan, the OTIT can revoke the authorization granted to that host.
In the past, there was only a round of visits to and guidance for host organizations by a private-sector institution commissioned by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. The institution had no legal authority.
To steadily achieve good results, it is hoped the OTIT will properly guide and supervise host organizations.
TITP was launched in 1993 in the name of making an international contribution. However, the system was actually used as a means of providing foreign workers for jobs suffering from a labor shortage. The program came under fire both at home and overseas, with critics saying intern trainees were placed under harsh conditions in which they had to work for low pay.
Enhance technical training
Last year, long working hours and other violations were discovered at as many as about 4,000 hosts, marking a record high. They included cases sent to prosecutors in connection with violations of the Labor Standards Law, such as large sums of unpaid wages.
There were also a conspicuous number of human-rights violations, such as acts of violence against trainees and taking their passports away from them. In consideration of the realities, it is understandable that the new law has incorporated penalties for malicious conduct.
It is also necessary to extend assistance for trainees, such as improving and expanding offices in charge of receiving reports about offenses and providing advice for trainees, and, if necessary, changing their hosts.
At the end of June this year, there were more than 250,000 intern trainees, an increase of as many as 100,000 from five years earlier. The number of trainees visiting Japan will likely grow as a result of such factors as an expansion in the scope of jobs covered by the program.
Nursing care has been added to the list of jobs, the first kind of person-to-person services to be covered by the program. The ostensible aim of the move is to impart Japan’s excellent nursing care skills to developing countries as their societies are aging. However, there is no doubt that one reason for the move is to make up for the worsening shortage of front-line nursing-care personnel in Japan.
What is important in this respect is to prevent a decline in the quality of services. It is particularly important for carers to communicate with nursing care recipients and their families as well as fellow employees in the workplace.
Facilities that accept trainees, including special nursing homes, should not use the TITP system as an easy way of securing necessary personnel, but should make efforts to nurture trainees. For this end, it is indispensable to enhance Japanese-language teaching and technical training sessions for trainees.