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Foreign trainees voice complaints over working conditions to opposition parties

Foreign technical trainees explain their working conditions in a meeting with opposition parties at the National Diet Building in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Nov. 12, 2018. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- Foreign technical trainees expressed complaints about their working conditions, including low wages and long working hours, in a Nov. 12 meeting with six opposition parties at the National Diet Building.

The opposition parties held the hearing with foreign technical trainees as the government is aiming to accept more foreign workers into Japan to make up for a serious labor shortage. The Diet is deliberating a bill to amend the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act to that end.

However, opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, are poised to urge the government to prioritize investigating the current status of foreign technical trainees and improving their work conditions.

Around 20 foreign technical trainees attended the meeting. A 33-year-old Cambodian woman complained, "I'm not allowed to go to the hospital even if I feel sick." Another trainee revealed, "I was made to work from 6:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. without a day off for half a year." Another added, "My hourly wage was just 300 yen for overtime work." Lawyers who attended the meeting pointed to the need to "place priority on creating a system to protect the rights of foreigners."

There are numerous cases in which foreign technical trainees go missing in Japan. Lawyer Kyoko Osaka, engaging in supportive activities for foreign laborers, explained that there are "no chances for trainees to change jobs on their own free will." Foreigners who fled their workplaces where conditions were too tough are referred to as "missing persons." Kazunori Yamanoi of the Democratic Party for the People emphasized, "It's impossible for a Japanese worker not to be paid for overtime work."

Opposition parties asked a representative of the Ministry of Justice and other personnel at the meeting to provide the results on a fact-finding investigation of missing foreign technical trainees, in addition to the potential numbers of foreign workers to be accepted under new residency statuses. In response, Ministry of Justice officials merely replied, "We will consider a way to provide the results of the investigation on the missing foreign technical trainees."

(Japanese original by Jun Aoki, Political News Department)

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