Amendment of Foreign Training Program and Technical Internship
The New Foreign Training Program and Technical Internship Program started on July 1st, 2010. The old skill-training program allowed foreign students to learn careers in Japan. Cooperative associations established by one or several companies accepted students who want to acquire careers in Japanese domestic companies. First-year students were called trainees. After completing one year, the students who work in Japan to learn careers for two more years are called technical interns.
The old skill-training program, however, had moved away from the intended training purposes. Cases where foreign students are being used as cheap labor are sharply increasing. In particular, the skill-training programs provided through cooperative associations are in a deplorable state. Therefore, the programs were partly amended. The conventional skill-training program, with the exception of some parts, was unified with the technical internship program. Foreign trainees are now given the same rights as laborers.
Protection of technical intern trainees
In the old Foreign Training Program and Technical Internship Program, the first-year trainees were not treated as laborers. The labor law to protect the rights of workers was not applied to the foreign trainees.
However, although they were trainees, there were many cases where they did the same jobs as workers did. This was the reality. Thus, in the new Foreign Training Program and Technical Internship Program, the conventional training program was unified into the technical internship program. An exception was made for training such as public training and industrial practice. Therefore, foreign trainees are legally protected as workers, like technical intern trainees, during their first year.
For instance, when a technical intern trainee works overtime during their first year, they can demand extra wages for that overtime. There are wages an employer owes over the statutory minimum wage. For instance, during his or her first year, when a technical intern trainee works overtime, he or she can demand extra wages. Technical intern trainees’ compulsory savings by the company are prohibited. In principle, the employer must include the technical intern trainee in the employment insurance and the workers’ compensation insurance. In addition, dismissal without legitimate reasons is not allowed.
However, even under the New Foreign Training Program and Technical Internship Program, by misusing the vulnerable position of any technical intern trainee, the following illegal cases can result: less than the minimum wages are paid or extra pay for overtime is not paid.
There are many cases where trainees and technical interns have nobody to consult with because they were required to promise that they would not start any lawsuits in Japan when they left their mother lands, or they had their passports confiscated after they arrived in Japan by a middle man or by the company for which they work.
These problems are expected to remain for technical interns even in the future.
It appears certain that such treatment robs trainees and technical interns of their rights. So, if you are a trainee or technical intern, you must have the courage to contact us, or your labor union, for a consultation.