– Amid rising incidents of human rights violations, abuse and lack of support for overseas trainees, the Japanese government on Tuesday assembled a panel of experts to assess the controversial technical internship program.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a government agency responsible for delivering the bulk of Official Development Assistance to the government, helping economic and social growth in developing countries, and enhancing international cooperation, will lead the panel.
JICA President Akihiko Tanaka will chair the group comprising 14 other members, with the first meeting scheduled for before the end of the year, the Japan Immigration Services Agency said.
Subsequently, monthly meetings will take place with the goal of producing a preliminary report in the spring to be finalized around the fall of next year.
The government will make revisions to the program after the final report is submitted.
According to the Immigration Services Agency, at the end of June there were about 328,000 people residing in Japan as technical trainees.
The training program for foreigners was introduced by the Japanese government in 1993 to allow people from certain developing countries to work here in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Apprentices were allowed to work for up to five years.
Since the inception of the technical intern program, an increasing number of disturbing incidents have occurred with increasing frequency in connection with the program, and interns were found to be victims of physical abuse, harassment, and exploitation.
The program has been frequently criticized both at home and abroad by cultural, civic, and educational groups, among others.
This is amid concerns that some Japanese companies are simply using the training program for what amounts to slave labor, rather than how it is supposed to work as a means of transferring new skills to developing countries.
The program is intended to give trainees from abroad the opportunity to learn new skills here and then transfer them back to their respective developing countries.
Despite the government’s efforts here to crack down on brokers and placement agencies who exploit foreigners for large sums of money with the promise of being able to work in Japan, the program remains fundamentally flawed as many of the trainees are abused. when they are placed. with a company here, advocacy groups here have said. ■