Vietnamese trainees among top fleeing in Japan hinh anh 1Vietnamese nursing and caregiving candidates attend a ceremony to mark the start of their training programme in Japan. (Photo: The Japan News)

Tokyo (VNA) – Vietnam ranked second in the number of trainees fleeing from their workplaces in Japan in 2015, according to a report from the Japanese Ministry of Justice’s Immigration Bureau.

A record 5,803 foreign trainees went missing while working in Japan last year, the bureau said, sparking concern that many may have remained in Japan as a source of the black labour market. 

Among those, people from China made up more than half, with 3,116. They were followed by 1,705 Vietnamese, 336 people from Myanmar, 250 Indonesians and 102 Nepalese. 

The ministry says the number of disappearances has increased sharply over the last five years with the expansion of the trainee programme, from 1,534 in 2011 to 2,005 in 2012 and then to 3,566 in 2013. In 2014, the figure was 4,847, with Chinese nationals topping 3,000 for the first time. 

“We see the situation as serious and are taking measures to correct it,” said an official from the bureau.

Even so, the Japanese Government plans to expand the foreign trainee programme as the local population ages and shrinks. Last week, Japan’s Lower House passed two bills related to foreign labour which aim to reduce exploitation and abuse of trainees as well as expand the programme’s scope to caregivers.

Trainees have traditionally worked in industries shunned by Japanese workers, often engaging in physically demanding jobs such as construction, metal-molding or food processing. Last year, 192,000 foreigners arrived in Japan under the trainee programme.

According to Ippei Torii, head of Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, a support group for foreign workers, the rise in disappearances simply mirrors the fact that the number of trainees is on the rise, and the system continues to be exploited to provide cheap labour for Japanese companies.-VNA