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Mitsubishi, Panasonic technical trainee programs axed over unauthorized work

The Ministry of Justice is seen in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The justice and labor ministries canceled training programs for a total of 110 foreign technical trainees at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Panasonic Corp. on Jan. 25 after finding out that the leading Japanese companies had had the trainees carry out work not specified in their programs.

The ministries' action means that the major automaker and electronics giant will not be able to accept new trainees for the next five years.

According to the Justice Ministry, Mitsubishi had 28 Filipino trainees assemble car parts and bodies at its factory in the city of Okazaki in the central Japan prefecture of Aichi, despite the fact they came to Japan to learn welding. The company has accepted foreign welding trainees since 2008 but had seldom let them carry out the work originally set for them, according to ministry officials. Mitsubishi was also hit with an improvement order on Jan. 25.

The violation emerged in an investigation started in May 2018 by parties including the Organization of Technical Intern Training, a watchdog of foreign trainee programs, based on a tipoff from people outside the company. The trainees whose training programs were canceled have either gone home or moved to other companies. The organization is now probing the body that accepted the trainees and introduced them to Mitsubishi Motors.

Panasonic was slapped with a cancelation of its training program for 82 Chinese and Malaysian trainees who were at its factory in the city of Tonami in the central Japan prefecture of Toyama and other locations. The measure was taken after the company was handed down a 300,000 yen fine by the Tonami Summary Court for having a male employee work for illegally long overtime hours at the Tonami factory.

In addition to Mitsubishi Motors and Panasonic, two more companies in the prefectures of Toyama and Ibaraki northeast of Tokyo had their training programs canceled for reasons such as the criminal conviction of those companies or their board members.

Companies that have their technical trainee programs canceled will not be able to receive foreign workers admitted to Japan under new residency statuses to be introduced in April for five years, according to a draft Justice Ministry order made public late last year.

(Japanese original by Takechi Wada, City News Department)

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