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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 13 - 19  > JCP Fujino: New residence status lacks protection of foreign workers’ human rights
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2019 March 13 - 19 [LABOR]

JCP Fujino: New residence status lacks protection of foreign workers’ human rights

March 14, 2019

Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Fujino Yasufumi on March 13 at a House of Representatives Judicial Affairs Committee meeting criticized the government policy to accept more foreign workers with the creation of a new residence status, stressing that the government policy lacks measures to safeguard their human rights.

In December 2018, the Immigration Control Act was revised under the pretext of addressing the problem of labor shortages in Japan. With this revision, the government in April will start a system of granting specified skills visas to foreign workers, and detailed rules on the system will be set by ministry ordinances.

Aiming to describe potential problems contained in the new residence status system, Fujino referred to the existing problems under the “Technical Intern Training” program. He said that foreign trainees are subjected to human rights abuses. As an example, Fujino cited the fact that workers are burdened with huge debts as they are forced to pay an unfairly large amount of money upfront to brokers in their home countries. It is also often the case that foreign trainees are put under exploitative working conditions. Fujino expressed concern that malicious brokers have a hand also in the specified skills scheme. He asked the government how it plans to prevent overseas brokers from unjustly exploiting foreign workers seeking to obtain the new visas.

In reply, Justice Ministry Immigration Bureau chief Sasaki Seiko said that the government will require foreign workers to report the amount of money they paid to mediators.

Fujino pointed to the fact that an agent sending trainees from the Philippines to Japan coerces trainees to accept an unfair contract which requires them to return home at their own expense if trainees break the contract and bans them from complaining about their wages in Japan. Stating that this broker is certified as a “good agent” by the Philippine government, Fujino stressed that a two-country agreement and other measures taken by the Japanese government have no teeth.

In addition, Fujino said that ministry ordinances concerning the new residence status should reflect the results of the Justice Ministry taskforce’s investigation of fatal incidents involving foreign trainees. Justice Minister Yamashita Takashi in reply showed a negative stance.

Fujino said that under the current situation, there is no guarantee that foreign workers’ human rights will be properly protected and that the government should give up starting the specified skills visa program.

Past related articles:
> Abe gov't forcibly enacts controversial bills [December 9, 2018]
> 85% of runaway Vietnamese trainees conned out of unfair commissions to come to Japan [December 7, 2018]
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