Asia - Pacific

Japan moves to address abuse of migrant workers

Over 200 companies to launch joint app to allow foreign workers to directly register complaint with 3rd party

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 20.09.2021
Japan moves to address abuse of migrant workers File Pohto - by Neil Daftary on Unsplash


Amid allegations by migrant workers of abuses, ranging from overtime to underpaid work, over 200 companies have come together in Japan to launch a smartphone app to “protect the human rights” of foreign workers.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is leading the move which includes among others Toyota Motor Corporation, retail giant Aeon Co., SoftBank Group Corp., Seven & i Holdings Co., Ajinomoto Co., and beverage maker Asahi Group Holdings Ltd.

A JICA official told Tokyo-based Kyodo News that the companies will jointly develop the app which will “allow technical trainees and other workers to consult with third-party organizations without informing their companies.”

The trial of the app is expected to begin next year.

The number of foreign workers in Japan hit a record 1.72 million in 2020 as it accounts for less than 2% of its total population of approximately 126 million people.

A secretariat comprising the JICA and an associated human rights organization will be directly in contact with the victim migrant workers.

The app will use artificial intelligence while the app developers are “considering allowing users to report abusive workplaces and host organizations to local governments and other authorities.”

“We would also like to provide useful information on living in Japan in multiple languages,” said the JICA official.

The condition of interns working in Japan is specifically bad. Data released last year showed 759 cases of suspected abuse, including unpaid wages.

The number of missing foreign trainees rose to 9,052 in 2018, compared with 7,089 the previous year.

Japan’s Justice Ministry found that 171 interns had died while in the program between 2012 and 2017.

The fatal cases also included 17 suicides, including one case in which a trainee was given only four days off over three and a half months.

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