Yamanashi: Students create videos on foreign interns

The Yomiuri Shimbun
High school students interview a technical intern, left, in Nirasaki on March 29.

NIRASAKI, Yamanashi — Amid an ongoing labor shortage, companies in Yamanashi Prefecture have seen an increase in the number of foreign technical interns. Several local high school students have gotten involved in a project in which they compile video interviews with these individuals to share them with people around their age, hoping to help foster a better understanding of the interns.

On March 29, three high school students visited Moro Manufacturing Co. in Nirasaki, Yamanashi Prefecture, a parts manufacturer that has technical interns. The students interviewed two Vietnamese trainees and recorded the session with their smartphones.

When the students asked, “Please tell us about any difficulties you had since you came to Japan,” a 20-year-old Vietnamese woman said, “The most difficult thing was the Japanese [language].” Then, after talking about what she likes about her work and family, she told the students in Vietnamese, “I will do my best, so I hope you will do your best, too.”

Another technical intern, after being interviewed, recalled, “I remember the family I left behind in my hometown and the hardships I faced when I first came to Japan.”

In many places in Yamanashi Prefecture, incidents caused by foreign technical interns are often reported, and they are sometimes given a negative image. Therefore, the SJC Cooperative business Association in Kofu, an organization that accepts foreign technical interns, planned the production of the videos to give the younger generation a chance to see what they are like.

A total of six students from two high schools participated in the project. During their visit to Moro Manufacturing, the students observed the interns at work. After watching them maneuver machines that were larger than them with skilled hands, a student, 17, at Sundai Kofu High School said, “I could see that they were working hard and brushing up their skills as do Japanese. This changed my image of them.”

The students will also conduct interviews at two other companies, and plan to complete the videos around summer.

According to the Yamanashi Labor Bureau, the number of foreign workers in the prefecture as of October last year was 8,360, an increase of 1.8 times in the past five years. About half of them are permanent residents or spouses of Japanese nationals, but nearly a quarter of the total, or 1991, are technical interns.

By nationality, Vietnam accounted for 23.2% of the total. And countries such as Brazil and China followed.

“Although the purpose of the technical internship system is not to solve the labor shortage, it is likely that the acceptance of technical interns will continue in the future,” an official of the Labor Bureau said.