Start of the investigation of the financial situation of technical trainees in Japan

This photo taken in September 2021 shows the building that houses the Ministry of Justice in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan has launched a survey to apprehend the financial situation of overseas technical trainees, as money troubles appear to be the reason many are abruptly leaving their host companies, a government official said.

Japan’s Immigration Services Agency and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare have begun collecting information on 2,000 interns across the country, including the salary they receive at the workplace. work and the amount they owe in relocation expenses.

In Japan, thousands of technical trainees leave their host companies unannounced every year in search of better salaries, among other reasons, as many of them start their lives here heavily in debt due to the huge expenses to enter the country.

This is the first investigation into the expenses incurred by these trainees since the entry into force of the law on the protection of technical trainees in November 2017, according to the official. The law strengthens the control of companies that host trainees.

The ministry and agency aim to reflect the results of the survey in the review of the country’s foreign technical trainee program, as the law states in its supplementary provisions that the system would be reviewed around the fifth year of the application of the law. law if necessary.

The program aims to transfer skills to developing countries, but has been criticized for being used as a cover for companies to import cheap labour.

According to the agency, the number of interns with whom their host companies have lost contact has risen from around 3,500 in 2013 to around 9,000 in 2018.

Those who disappeared numbered around 3,300 in 2021 in June, with Vietnamese accounting for the largest number.

For the survey, scheduled from January to April, the Organization for Technical Training of Interns, which oversees the internship program, mainly distributes survey forms to interns from six countries: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and Viet Nam. during his visits to companies for regular on-site inspections.

The survey asks for information, such as the amount they paid to organizations that arranged their visit to Japan, the purpose of the payments, and whether they made payments to anyone else. Respondents were also asked if their salary in Japan was what they expected before they arrived.

“There are instances in which these runaway trainees engage in illegal labor and crimes such as theft. It is essential to implement measures to reduce the number of trainees who disappear from their workplaces” , the official said.

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