Exclusiveness and Slavishness Imposed on Japanese Foreign Laborers: In the Case of Technical Intern Trainees

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Mai YOSHIDA, Institute of Social Theory and Dynamics, Japan
This study analyzes the exclusiveness and slavishness of Japanese foreign labor policy. Japan has been taking close-door immigration policy, which is based on strict jus sanguinis principles. Its exclusiveness is also seen in the number of certified refugees, which was only 26 out of 10,901 applicants in 2016. On the other hand, Japan has been confronting “super-aged” population. In this situation, Japan needs to open the door to maintain its domestic industries in order to survive global market competition. Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) is one of the labor policy of Japan which aims to pull young workers from neighboring Asian countries. However, government report indicates that 71.4% of all companies which accept foreign trainees are reported to violate the labor standard law. For their poor working conditions and strict labor management, TITP is often criticized as “modern slavery”. But among the 228,588 trainees, only 6,518(2.8%) are reported to escape from workplace. It directly shows the exclusiveness of TITP, strict supervision of the government and companies over the trainees to cage them in the territories. In this respect, slavishness of TITP has been often discussed as a part of labor issue as “silent trainees”. However, trainees are deprived of not only workers’ rights but also of social rights, especially for those who are tagged as “deviator”. Therefore, this paper focuses on the trainees who tried to negotiate with their employers or escaped from workplace. As a result, this paper presents 1) trainee’s alternatives for adaptation: to endure, to fight or to escape and, 2) the background and factors of each alternatives. However, in any alternatives, trainees can hardly escape from the fear of being monitored. This paper discusses the slavishness of TITP and the challenges of labor movement by the interview data collected from 20 Filipino trainees in Japan.