Majority of Trainees in Debt before Arriving in Japan

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
People study Japanese in Hanoi in April prior to traveling to Japan.

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—A majority of foreign technical trainees borrowed money before coming to Japan, an Immigration Services Agency survey showed Tuesday.

The first survey on costs paid by foreign technical trainees to come to Japan found that 54.7 pct of the surveyed trainees were in debt before their departure, with the average amount reaching ¥547,788.

Many applicants to Japan’s technical intern training program borrow a lot of money to pay commissions and deposits to related institutions in their countries.

Such heavy debts tend to make their lives difficult after their arrival in Japan, leading some trainees to disappear or work illegally, critics say.

The survey was conducted by the agency and the Organization for Technical Intern Training from Dec. 10 last year to the end of April this year. Valid answers came from 2,184 people.

Of the 2,107 respondents who answered a question asking whether they incurred debt before coming to Japan, 1,152, or 54.7 pct, said yes and the remaining 955 said no.

The average amount of debts stood at ¥674,480 for trainees from Vietnam, the biggest amount by country. Cambodia came second at ¥566,889, followed by China at ¥528,847.

Of the total respondents, 1,369 stated how much they paid to the institutions that sent them to Japan, brokers or both. The average amount stood at ¥542,311.

The average came to ¥688,143 for respondents from Vietnam, ¥591,777 for those from China and ¥573,607 for those from Cambodia.

The agency said that some institutions in Vietnam charge “unreasonably high commission fees.”

The number of foreign technical trainees in Japan stood at 276,123 as of the end of last year.

Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa has set up a study group to discuss a possible review of the technical intern training program.

A summary of the discussions, including those with experts, will be disclosed within this month at the earliest.

The agency will use the results of the survey for further debate.