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Technical Intern Training Program to better reflect the realities of the fishing industry

April 22, 2015

On April 22, the Party's Fisheries Division (Director: Ichiro Tsukada, member of the House of Councillors) heard opinions from fisheries groups about an overhaul of the Technical Intern Training Program.

A number of problems have been identified with the current system. There is a lack of intergovernmental agreements, which results in inappropriate institutions becoming involved in the process and, for example, collecting "guarantee money" from interns before they are dispatched. There is also a lack of clarity in articulated duties and responsibilities of oversight bodies and accepting organizations.

The legislature is currently deliberating a "Bill Concerning the Appropriate Conduct of Technical Intern Training Programs and the Protection of Trainees" which would mandate the execution of intergovernmental agreements and efforts in conjunction with other governments to eliminate inappropriate institutions from the process. It would also require the licensing of oversight bodies, the filing of notifications by accepting organizations, and the certification of training plans.

In addition, the bill would extend the training period at qualified oversight bodies from three years to five years and expand the number of trainees accepted.

At the meeting, the Japan Fisheries Association and other groups expressed concern about whether "the trainee's working conditions would satisfy standards designated by ministerial ordinance," one of the conditions for the certification of training plans, and the potential for the law to "become a one-size-fits-all statute that does not account for the irregular working hours and other realities of life at sea and makes fisheries training impossible."

Many members in attendance also advocated "administration of the system in a way that matches the realities of the fishing industry" and measures to ensure that strict labor conditions did not upset the working environment.

Director Tsukada called on "the Fisheries Agency and other relevant ministries and agencies to coordinate together and respond appropriately."

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