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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 June 18 - 24  > Zenroren holds a symposium on foreign trainees program
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2008 June 18 - 24 [LABOR]

Zenroren holds a symposium on foreign trainees program

June 24, 2008
About 150 people took part in a symposium on June 22 in Kumamoto City in southwestern Japan to discuss the issue of the “foreign trainee program,” which is fraught with problems, including human rights violations and unfair labor practices.

The symposium was co-hosted by the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and the organizing committee.

The industrial training and internship program was launched in 1993 with the aim of contributing to human resources development for developing countries. Under the program Japan has accepted young people from overseas, mainly from China and Southeast Asia. They receive on-the-job training in Japan.

The program is supported by the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO), a public corporation established in 1991 under the jurisdiction of five ministries, in order to assist companies and groups that accept foreign trainees.

Contrary to its stated aim, the program involves many serious problems. Companies and business groups tend to treat foreign trainees and interns as a cheap labor force. These trainees are often forced to work long hours for low pay. They are asked to surrender their passports to the company and are even forced to save money under company-directed schemes.

In Kumamoto Prefecture, six Chinese interns filed a lawsuit with the Kumamoto District Court demanding damages for unfair treatment.

Kumamoto local union secretary Araki Masanobu said that groups of companies that distribute foreign trainees are telling companies to accept foreign trainees saying that “companies can employ foreign trainees and interns at wages below the legal minimum wage.” Arakai stressed, “Foreign trainees and interns should have basic workers’ rights.”

Zenroren Organizing Bureau Chief Terama Seiji said that we should make a society in which Japanese and foreign residents can live without worry.
- Akahata, June 24, 2008
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