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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 13 - 19  > Increasing number of foreign trainees used in violation of labor laws
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2019 March 13 - 19 [LABOR]

Increasing number of foreign trainees used in violation of labor laws

March 15, 2019

Illegal labor practices targeting foreign trainees are on an upward trend. In 2017, the number of labor law violation cases increased to 4,200 from 3,695 in 2015 and 1844 in 2013. This was shown in the results of a Labor Ministry survey of business entities utilizing the foreign trainee and internship program.

The most common illegal act was the violation of working time rules which made up 26.2% of the total cases, followed by the violation of rules on occupational safety (19.7%) and overtime payments (15.8%).

The foreign trainee program is often criticized as being intrinsically flawed which leads to human rights violations. Many of foreign trainees, for example, are forced to pay a huge amount of money to brokers in their home countries. This prevents them from complaining about their sweatshop-like working conditions and their experiences of human-right abuses.

Meanwhile, the Abe government last year bulldozed through the revision of the Immigration Control Act for the purpose of accepting as many as 500,000 foreign workers in manual labor fields experiencing labor shortages. This measure will allow foreign trainees to be used as cheap labor for up to five years.

The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and human rights organizations have been insisting that what the government should do is not to expand the use of foreign workers but to implement measures to protect foreign workers’ human rights and livelihoods.

As of the end of March 2018, the number of foreigners working in Japan totaled 1.28 million. Of them, 274,000 came to Japan under the foreign trainee program and 311,000 as overseas students.

Past related articles:
> Hitachi and its group companies instructed to abide by rules pertaining to foreign trainee program [March 6, 2019]
> Mitsubishi Motors and Panasonic punished for violating law on use of foreign trainees [January 26, 2019]
> Abe gov’t new policy on foreign workers increases concern in regard to human rights violations [August 23, 2018]
> 80% of employers using foreign trainees violate labor laws [October 2, 2015]
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