Japan firm loses license to train foreigners after breaking rules with Chinese workers

Sewing company will not be allowed to accept foreign trainees for the next five years

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 1:43pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 10:28pm

A sewing company in western Japan was stripped Tuesday of its license to receive foreign trainees under a government programme following the violation of immigration rules by Chinese workers.

It marked the first revocation since a new law aimed at improving the programme took effect in November.

Epoch, headquartered in the city of Uwajima, Ehime Prefecture, will not be allowed to accept foreign trainees for the next five years, according to the justice and labour ministries.

Japan launched the training programme in 1993 with the aim of assisting other countries to develop their economies.

But the scheme, designed to transfer abroad some of the country’s industrial and agricultural skills, has sometimes drawn criticism at home and abroad that it is a cover for importing cheap labour.

To ensure proper management of foreign trainees, the government enacted the new law to strengthen its supervision of companies and organisations involved in the programme.

An executive of the sewing company was arrested in April on suspicion of helping two Chinese trainees work beyond their visa limitations. The two were also arrested for allegedly violating Japan’s immigration law.

Epoch and the executive were each ordered to pay a fine of 300,000 yen (US$2,700) the following month.

The company has already accepted three other Chinese trainees. But following the revocation of the license, the ministries said, the three Chinese trainees need to decide whether to return home or find a new place to work.