The True Value of the Changing "Foreign Technical Intern Training Program" – Issues Highlighted by the COVID-19 Disaster


In accordance with the Foreign Technical Intern Training Program (hereinafter, the “TITP” ). Japan has invited a large number of human resources from southeast Asian countries. It was started as part of its efforts to contribute to developing countries as a developed country, and has a long track record. On the other hand, the era has changed since then, and the “actual situation” of the system has changed greatly. Three experts talked about the issues highlighted by the COVID-19 disaster and the trends that Japan should be advancing in the future.

Mr.Fumiyasu Akegawa

Fumiyasu Akegawa (hereinafter Akegawa) – In order for Japan to play a role as a developed country and achieve harmonious development with the international community, it was part of its contribution activities to developing countries as a leading developing country in Asia, with the aim of transferring skills, technologies, and knowledge to developing countries and cooperating in “human resource (that plays a role in economic development in developing countries and other countries). After that, it was greatly changed in November 2016. Currently, 308,489 of the 1.46 million foreign workers in Japan (according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in October 2019) are foreign technical intern trainees, although there used to be overwhelmingly many trainees from China, but Vietnam currently has the largest number of system users.

Mr.Kunio Umeda
Former Ambassador of Japan to Vietnam Senior Researcher, Japan Economic Research Institute Inc.

Kunio Umeda ( hereinafter Umeda) Currently (19as of December 31, 2010) totaled 2.93 million foreign residents,increased by 7.4%, to a record high. The number of Vietnamese residents is about 410,000 (up 24.5% from the previous year), which ranks third behind Chinese (810,000) and Koreans (450,000). If you look at it by status of residence. Of the 410,000 trainees, the number of technical intern trainees is about 220,000. The number of trainees in Vietnam has increased 28-time in 9 years, about 2.7 times that of Chinese apprentices who are ranked 1st and 2nd in each country. According to a survey on the employment status of foreigners by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the total number of foreign workers was 1.66 million as of October last year. Of these, half are Vietnamese (400,000) and Chinese (420,000) workers. Vietnamese workers have surged since around 2014, more than ten times in the past six years.
On the other hand, unfortunately, between 2015 and last year, Vietnam ranked first in the number of illegal remainers, the number of disappearances (technical intern trainees), and the number of crimes arrested by country. In addition, the number of foreign inmates is 1st place China, 2nd place Brazil, 3rd place Vietnam, but only Vietnamese inmates are increasing. In addition, the U.S. State Department’s annual human trafficking report criticizes serious human rights violations in Japan, which can be called slave labor under the technical intern training system, and greatly damages Japan’s honor.

Akegawa – One of the factors that causes trainees to commit crimes in Japan is the problem of malicious brokers or sending agencies. Vietnamese young people need to borrow a lot of money to get to Japan. There are various reasons for moving to Japan, but most of them use the TITP system as a “work away from home” for their families.
There are sending organizations that do not explain the TITP system sufficiently, use sweet words such as being well earned, and shoulder a large amount of debt. They do not cooperate enough with companies while collecting money as a sending fee, and on the contrary, they are falsifying necessary documents. Trainees and international students who go to Japan are the same in the sense that they are illegally made money-making seeds, although they are carried out in accordance with laws and regulations.

Mr.Hideaki Domichi
Senior Vice President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

Hideaki Domichi (Domichi) – The situation is changing completely in COVID-19 now, but Japan is not like any other in the world. Due to the declining birthrate and aging population, we are facing the crisis of industrial collapse due to labor shortages. For that reason, Aiand robobut the need for foreigners to replenish the labor force remains unchanged. I think. This will become clearer again as the COVID-19 converges and the economy recovers. The system of technical intern trainees started as a human resource development in developing countries, but because it was used as a hidden means of supplying labor, many evils were created, so the law was revised, and the problem of labor shortages needed to be tackled head-on, and a specific skills system was established. On the other hand, countries suffering from labor shortages are competing not only with Japan but also among developed countries, Taiwan, and South Korea, and the right to choose has shifted to the people of the dispatching countries. I believe that Japan still has its charms, but it is still not the case if we say that society has developed sufficiently to coexist with people from other countries and different cultures.

Akegawa – Trainees are a good “labor force” for Japanese companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises. Unfortunately, many small and medium-sized enterprises still think that trainees can be employed at low wages. In some japanese SMEs, which continue to be difficult to recruit and dismiss, some companies use the system with a sense of hiring part-time jobs. In this way, under circumstances where the purpose of the original training system is not understood or known, the “problem of the TITP system” has surfaced more because the sending organization, trainees, management organizations, receiving companies, etc. insist only on their respective interests.