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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 December 5 - 11  > Foreign workers in building industry under special measures scheme used as cheap labor
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2018 December 5 - 11 [LABOR]

Foreign workers in building industry under special measures scheme used as cheap labor

December 6, 2018

The Japanese construction industry has been hiring foreign workers since 2015 under the government's special measures scheme. For many employers, such measures are very useful as they can use foreigners as a cheap labor force.

The special measures make it possible for the construction industry to rehire foreign "trainees" who have completed a three-year construction training program for another three years as "workers".

The measures can be applied only to governmentally-certified organizations and companies, requiring these entities to meet certain standards for wages and prohibiting them from charging foreign workers high rents, deposits, or penalties. Government-commissioned organs occasionally inspect construction firms which are supplied with foreign labor. The consigned organs will rescind the certification of certified corporations if misconduct is found.

Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Yamazoe Taku at a meeting of the Upper House Committee on Land and Infrastructure on November 27 revealed that 40% of 518 inspected construction companies received corrective instructions for misconduct and wage-related violations last year.

Also, JCP Upper House legislator Nihi Sohei in the House Judicial Affairs Committee (Nov.29) cited a case where a foreign trainee was forced to pay 200,000 yen in commission to an intermediary agent in her/his home country when she/he became what the special measures call "a worker". Nihi said, "In the system under the special measures as well, there exist brokers just like in the foreign trainee program."

In terms of using foreigners as cheap labor, there is no distinction between the special measures scheme and the training program.

Past related articles:
> Gov’t proposal for legal changes will expose foreign workers to human rights violations: JCP Fujino [November 14, 2018]
> Vietnamese trainee experiences violence at host company [November 10, 2018]
> Foreign trainees testify about harsh working conditions to opposition party Dietmembers [November 9, 2018]
> Thousands of foreign trainees run away from exploitative working conditions [November 8, 2018]
> JCP Koike criticizes gov't for leaving existing problems of foreign workers unresolved [November 8, 2018]
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