Human Rights Risks in Technical Intern Training Program

Need to eliminate violations of standards and strengthen regulations


December 28, 2021

  • Tomoko Yazawa


◆The U.S. Department of State has pointed out that Japan's Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) is "forced or compulsory labor." This paper examines the state of labor standards supervision and examines the causes of the system of technical intern training being accused of forced labor. In addition, the problem of debt held by intern trainees, as well as problems related to the TITP will be addressed, and how Japan should respond to the human rights risks inherent in the TITP.

◆The violation rate at workplaces where technical intern training is implemented does not differ significantly as a whole from that of workplaces where periodic supervision and other regulations are applied. However, the percentage of violations of safety and health standards, wages, and overtime payments, etc. in workplaces where the technical intern training is implemented is high. These are consistent with the typical conditions of forced or compulsory labor. In addition, technical intern trainees may incur a large amount of debt, including illegal brokerage fees and guarantee deposits, which may lead to debt bondage. In addition, the absence of freedom to leave employment may be a factor that suggests that the TITP is forced labor.

◆In 2017, the Japanese government enforced the “Act on Proper Technical Intern Training and Protection of Technical Intern Trainees" and implemented measures such as strengthening supervision of supervising organizations and implementing organizations, strengthening protection of technical intern trainees, eliminating inappropriate foreign-based sending organizations through Memorandum of Cooperation with sending countries, and supporting trainees to change workplaces. In the future, it will be important to further strengthen these measures, and to provide continuous training for implementing organizations, supervising organizations, and technical intern trainees.

◆Regarding the principle of "no change in workplaces where interns are accepted" in the TITP, it will be necessary to carefully consider measures in the future. The original purpose of the TITP is to transfer technology through practical training, but the actual situation is a valuable labor force to compensate for Japan’s labor shortage. It is necessary to eliminate any discrepancy between the original purpose of the TITP and actual situations, and to eliminate inappropriate handling of technical intern trainees.

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