Vietnamese Trainee in Japan Suffers Violent Abuse
Japan and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
Since his arrival in Japan in 2019, a Vietnamese man has taken part in a government-sponsored technical internship program. Yesterday, he came forward and reported being violently abused for the past two years (Kyodo News, 2022).
The 41-year-old demands an apology and compensation for his suffering. Next to being hit with a broom, video footage shows harassment by colleagues as a response to his inability to speak Japanese. Additionally, the man reports broken ribs and broken teeth because of being beaten at his workplace. The abuse started one month after beginning the program (Kyodo, 2022).
The so-called Technical Internship training (TITP) was introduced by the Japanese government in 1993 and is criticized by many. While the official aim of the program is to solve labor shortages that derive from an aging Japanese population and a low birth rate, research shows that 70% of businesses engaging in this program were violating labor laws (Clean Clothes Campaign, 2020).
Labor abuses of migrant workers include illegally low wages, enforced overtime, verbal abuse, and inhumane living conditions. In Japan, migrant workers are especially vulnerable to labor exploitation due to the lack of language skills and thereby missing access to legal advice (Clean Clothes Campaign, 2020).
Japan has repeatedly received criticism from abroad. The US State Department, as well as the United Nation Human Rights Council, have criticized the TITP for years, demanding legal oversight. The international community perceives this program as a form of modern slavery and expects more ambition from the Japanese government to eradicate this issue (Hayakawa & Barnes, 2017).
Sources and further readings:
Clean Clothes Campaign. (2020, April 14). Forced labour and debt-trap: migrant workers in Japan face substantial risks during coronavirus outbreak. https://cleanclothes.org/news/2020/forced-labour-and-debt-trap-migrant-workers-in-japan-face-substantial-risks-during-coronavirus-outbreak-
Hayakawa, T., & Barnes, J. (2017, October 16). Japan’s Technical Intern Training Programme - Learning the Hard Way? |. IHRB. https://www.ihrb.org/focus-areas/migrant-workers/commentary-japan-migrant-workers-titp
KYODO NEWS. (2022, January 17). Vietnamese trainee in Japan demands apology for 2 years of abuse. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/01/7d056dd0f1df-vietnamese-trainee-in-japan-demands-apology-for-2-years-of-abuse.html