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Japan foreign technical intern group admits treatment of 3 Vietnamese ‘inappropriate’

  • April 20, 2022
  • , The Mainichi
  • English Press

SENDAI — The Sendai office of Japan’s Organization for Technical Intern Training (OTIT) has admitted that pushing three Vietnamese interns to quit a labor union they had joined after being forced to leave their jobs was “inappropriate” and “regrettable,” the union announced on April 18.


The three interns, all women in their 20s and 30s, joined the Sendai Keyaki Union in February this year soon after being forced to quit a marine product processing company in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, following a dispute with their boss. Their requests to be reinstated were rejected, and the trainees moved into a supporter’s shelter in Sendai and are living on groceries from a food bank.


When the three consulted the OTIT Sendai, the office replied that it “will not discuss the case until they (the trainees) leave the union.” They also received an email to the same effect. On April 5, the union called the office’s actions a possible violation of workers’ basic rights, and demanded an explanation.


The union said it received a reply on April 12 from the local office of the OTIT — which oversees Japan’s technical trainee program — stating, “Our response was inappropriate and extremely regrettable.” It added that asking the trainees to quit the union “could be considered an unfair labor practice, and we will endeavor to once again inform our staff to prevent a recurrence.” The statement furthermore suggested the office would help the interns find new placements.


Office head Yoichi Ozaki also told the Mainichi Shimbun, “I think our response was inappropriate, and I’d like to put effort into preventing this from happening again.”


However, the labor union noted that the OTIT did not explicitly apologize, and that as of April 18, it had not contacted the three women. Sendai Keyaki head Shinsei Mori, 32, stated that the office “has not actually done anything to help the interns, even though it knows they do not have any official support.”


One of the three women said, “We haven’t been able to work for two months. This is all very painful for me and my family,” and asked for help finding new employment.

(Japanese original by Yudai Hiraka, Sendai Bureau)

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