Japan to phase out technical trainee program

By Hong Chieu   March 19, 2024 | 10:09 pm PT
Japan to phase out technical trainee program
A class that trains Vietnamese workers before they go to Japan for work, May 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Japan will gradually phase out its technical trainee program, replacing it with a different program to enable immigrant workers to stay.

Nagata Yuki, head of the policy coordination department at the country's immigration bureau, said Tuesday the technical trainee program, begun in 1992, shows limitations today.

The trainees only get the minimum wage and no bonuses unlike locals, cannot switch to another area to work even if a job does not suit them or employers ill-treat them.

The program has been criticized for treating trainees as cheap manual labor. Many experts, scholars and officials in Japan called for the program to be scrapped last year.

Yuki said a new program to replace it would focus on three things: protecting the rights of foreign workers in Japan and giving them chances for promotion, allowing them to switch workplaces and improve their Japanese language capabilities.

Vietnam has been among the top 15 countries sending workers to Japan as trainees. In the 30 years since the program was deployed, Japan has received over 400,000 Vietnamese trainees.

Of the Vietnamese workers, around 110,600 have been skilled workers who already knew Japanese and did not require training before going to work.

Ishii Chikahisa, a first secretary at the Japanese embassy in Vietnam, said skilled Vietnamese workers are employed in fields like nursing, construction, aviation, hospitality, and food and beverages.

Food production accounts for over 41,800 workers, followed by machinery and electronics with 24,800 and construction with 16,500 workers. Some 75% work in these fields.

Vietnam and Japan established diplomatic relations in 1973. Vietnam began sending workers to Japan in 1992 for durations of three to five years with average monthly salaries of US$1,200-1,400. Around 500,000 Vietnamese live in Japan, an eight-fold increase in the last 10 years, the second largest foreign community in the country.

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