Japan: US govt. downgrades Japan on Trafficking in Persons Report, highlighting issues with foreign trainee program

The United States State Department downgraded Japan to Tier 2 in its 2020 Trafficking Persons Report, which assesses countries' on their efforts to combat human trafficking. The report states that Japan "does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. " As part of its assessment, the State Department drew particular attention to forced labour allegations in the Technical Intern Training Program, highlighting the Japanese government's lack of response to excessive recruitment fees.  

Get RSS feed of these results

All components of this story

Article
29 June 2020

US State Department downgrades Japan over human trafficking concerns

Author: Kyodo News

"U.S. downgrades rating of Japan's efforts against human trafficking", 26 June 2020

The United States...downgraded its assessment of Japan's efforts to meet minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking, citing concerns over the abuse of labor migrants working in the country.

In its annual Trafficking in Persons Report, the State Department placed Japan in Tier 2, after the country earned the highest classification for two consecutive years through 2019 in the four-tier list...

On Japan, the report said the government is making "significant efforts" to meet the minimum standards to tackle trafficking, such as by identifying more victims than the previous year and increasing on-site inspections of businesses employing migrant workers.

"However, these efforts were not serious and sustained compared to those during the previous reporting period," the report said, citing that authorities failed to identify "a single trafficking case" in connection with foreigners working under the country's technical intern program "despite persistent reports of forced labor."

...But critics say there are suspected abuses of such workers, including unpaid wages and illegal overwork.

Despite the "prevalence of forced labor indicators" identified through inspections by an oversight mechanism, the Japanese government "did not report prosecuting or convicting any individuals for involvement in the forced labor" of technical interns, the report said.

It also pointed to lingering concerns over Japan's new visa system introduced in 2018. Under the system, technical interns have been allowed to switch their visas to the newly created ones, enabling them to extend their stays.

"Although there were no reported cases of forced labor within this system in 2019, observers continued to express concern that it would engender the same vulnerabilities to labor abuses, including forced labor," as those inherent to the technical intern program, the report said.

Read the full post here

Report
29 June 2020

US State Department points to gaps in Japan's response to trafficking of migrant workers

Author: US State Department

"Trafficking in Persons Report 20th Edition", June 2020

...The government maintained insufficient efforts to prevent trafficking, including by continuing to demonstrate a lack of political will to adequately do so among highly vulnerable migrant worker populations...Cases of forced labor occur within the TITP [Technical Training Program], a government-run program originally designed to foster basic technical skills among foreign workers that has effectively become a guest-worker program. TITP participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, the Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam pay sending organizations in their home countries thousands of dollars in excessive worker-paid fees, deposits, or vague “commissions”— despite bilateral agreements between sending countries and Japan aimed at curbing the practice—to secure jobs in fishing, food processing, shellfish cultivation, ship building, construction, textile production, and manufacturing of electronic components, automobiles, and other large machinery. TITP employers place many participants in jobs that do not teach or develop technical skills, contrary to the program’s stated intent; others place participants in jobs that do not match the duties they agreed upon beforehand. Some of these workers experience restricted freedom of movement and communication, confiscation of passports and other personal and legal documentation, threats of deportation, physical violence, poor living conditions, wage garnishing, and other conditions indicative of forced labor. Some sending organizations require participants to sign “punishment agreements” charging thousands of dollars in penalties if they fail to comply with their labor contracts. Participants who abscond from their contracted TITP jobs fall out of immigration status, after which some are reportedly subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor...

Read the full post here

Article
+ 日本語 - Hide

Author: 朝日新聞

「人身売買で日本格下げ 米国、技能実習生など問題視」2020年6月26日

米国務省は25日、世界の人身売買に関する年次報告書を発表した。日本については、外国人技能実習制度や児童買春の問題を取り上げ、「取り組みの真剣さや継続性が前年までと比べると不十分だ」として、前年までの4段階のうち最も良い評価から、上から2番目の評価に格下げした。

今回不十分と判断したのは、人身売買の摘発件数が前年より減ったことなどを考慮したためという。報告書ではこれまでも日本の技能実習制度を問題視してきたが、今回は「外国人の強制労働が継続して報告されているにもかかわらず、当局は一件も特定しなかった」とし、「法外な手数料を徴収する外国の仲介業者を排除するための法的措置を、十分に実施していない」と改善を求めた。

 人身売買問題を担当するリッチモンド大使は記者会見で、「技能実習制度の中での強制労働は長年懸念されてきたことで、日本政府はこの問題にもっと取り組むことができるはずだ」と指摘した。

Read the full post here