Japan govt. finalizes plan for new foreign trainee program

The Japanese government has officially decided on a plan to abolish the current system for foreign technical trainees and replace it with a new on-the-job training program.

It plans to submit the relevant draft legislation to the current Diet session.

The decision was made at a meeting of relevant Cabinet ministers on Friday. The plan is based on a report submitted by an expert panel.

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

It would be applied to the same sectors that are covered by the specified skilled workers program for such fields as nursing care, construction and agriculture. The plan says discussions would be held on whether to expand the approved fields to other industries in order to secure a sufficient workforce.

The plan also says foreign interns would be allowed to change their employers in the same field. Interns have been unable to do so in principle under the current program. It adds that each industry would set a period of between one and two years for interns to stay with the initial employer.

The government expects that a growing number of trainees may be granted permanent residency, but it will consider revoking this status if the person fails to pay taxes or social insurance contributions.

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said the government will work to introduce a better program so that talented foreigners will view Japan as an ideal place to work.