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10 Jun 2024

Eugene Lang, Nikkei Asia (Japan)

Japan: Parliament reportedly to consider regulating fee-charging for technical interns

"Japan wants employers to pitch in as foreign trainees face big fees at home,"

Japanese companies hiring foreign technical trainees could be required to help these workers pay the exorbitant fees charged by some recruitment agencies in their countries, as Japan looks to ease a debt burden that leaves these individuals open to human rights abuses.

Japan's parliament is in final deliberations on a bill to revise laws related to its controversial foreign technical intern program.

When a company in Japan wants to hire a trainee from another country under the program, a human resources business in that country called a "sending agency" serves as the contact point. The agency collects trainee applicants, arranges interviews for them and provides Japanese-language training to those who are offered jobs.

Many sending agencies use brokers to gather candidates for job offers from Japan. The agencies often charge trainees a lot of money when they go to Japan, including to cover the cost of the brokers...

Critics of Japan's foreign technical intern program argue that trainees have no choice but to take on large debts, which leave them especially vulnerable to human rights abuses...

The criteria set by the Immigration Services Agency for judging what fee amounts are "reasonable" will be crucial. Higher payments by the receiving Japanese companies could lead these businesses to avoid agencies with high fees -- and create pressure to reduce the fees...