Japan's LDP committee approves plan for new trainee program of foreign workers

Lawmakers with Japan's main ruling Liberal Democratic Party have approved a government proposal to change a program for on-the-job training of foreign workers.

The government submitted the proposal to an LDP special committee on Monday. It was compiled based on a report submitted by an expert panel in November last year.

The proposal recommends abolishing the existing program for foreign technical trainees and replacing it with a new one.

The new scheme would aim to train foreign interns to obtain a certain level of knowledge and skills in three years in principle.

It would be applied to the same industries that are covered by the specified skilled workers program for fields such as nursing care, construction and agriculture. But the proposal also says there would be discussions on extending this to other industries in view of securing a sufficient workforce.

The proposal also says that foreign interns would be allowed to change their employers in the same field, which they have been unable to do in principle under the current scheme.

But it recommends that each industry would set a period of between one and two years for trainees to work at the initial employer, as some LDP lawmakers had raised cautious views.

The proposal also says support for trainees who hope to switch employers would be provided only by public institutions, such as public job placement centers, in order to avoid engagement by malicious brokers.

The government plans to hold a meeting of relevant Cabinet ministers as early as this week for a formal decision on the proposal after gaining approval from the ruling coalition partner Komeito.