Japan launches entity to oversee foreign trainee working conditions

Excerpt from JAPAN TIMES January 26th, 2017

The government launched an entity Wednesday to enhance the supervision of companies and organizations that accept foreigners working under a government trainee program in Japan in an effort to prevent human rights abuses in the workplace.

The body, set up in line with a law enacted to that end in November, is authorized to conduct on-site inspections of companies and organizations suspected of making trainees work for low pay or long hours.

It will also introduce other companies or organizations to trainees working under bad conditions.

The body has a head office in Tokyo and plans to set up offices in 13 locations throughout Japan.

Japan introduced the training program for foreigners in 1993 with the aim of transferring skills to developing countries. It currently covers dozens of job categories chiefly in the construction, manufacturing, agriculture and fishery industries.

But the scheme has faced criticism both within and outside Japan as a cover for importing cheap labor. There have been reports of harsh working conditions, including illegally long work hours and nonpayment of wages.

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