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69 foreign technical interns died in Japan between 2015 and 2017: Justice Ministry

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People in their 20s don’t usually die of natural causes.

I need more numbers, because all they gave was 258,000 interns and that’s supposedly about 20% of all foreigners in Japan.

If you have 250,000 people, is it normal that about 35 young people die of unexpected causes or is this sinister?

6 ( +11 / -5 )

How does this compare to the number of deaths of Japanese doing the same jobs? This doesn't look good at all.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

It is a shame of Japan. We still do not have strong sense of human rights in our society. It comes from our feudalistic group mind. At western countries where individualism is strong, human rights are better (I do not say well) observed. Younger generations of Japan have better consciousness about human rights but not so in old generations. It must be taught at schools to children and the country and society must awaken the pubic attention and the government must enforce it often. The government is behind.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Why 69 ? I don't like it.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

The information will never come out due to “privacy concerns”

Whise privacy can that be?

Certainly not that of the deceased.....

5 ( +8 / -3 )

"Technical interns" is an Orwellian term if ever I heard one.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

It does seem odd that so many of these young people are dying, especially from killing themselves. Life can be pretty tough in Japan for a young person living alone and working like and being treated like a dog and being paid doggy biscuits. I’ve known all along that these young people will stop coming to Japan because of the low salaries and poor working conditions. Japan is doomed unless they make radical changes to the working culture. It may already be too late.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I need more numbers, because all they gave was 258,000 interns and that’s supposedly about 20% of all foreigners in Japan.

Of these, only 70% are in their 20s - so the relevant data set is about 180,000.

Still don't know about the death rate, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was higher than the wider population because a lot are likely to be male and in manual jobs.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

So we can't use the term Manual Labor? Or are some of these 'interns' the highly skilled nursing staff that take care of the elderly?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

69 of out 258,000 foreign interns? Is normal i guess. No society is perfect. We live in a age were stress and depression is common. Even school students have a higher rate then this. Stay strong and hope the next day would be better i guess. 1 day at a time.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

This is a disgrace by which Japan should be thoroughly ashamed. I hope this causes a national outcry and soul searching that puts an end to the brutal slave labor practices of these companies.

Publicly name and shame the companies and where possible prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

While not wishing to sound dismissive, is the figure statistically significant relative to the general population?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

And this points to another major problem with Japan. Lack of meaningful and accurate statistics that are also available to the public. In 2014 it was reported that the City of Osaka hid 81,000 crimes between 2008 and 2012.... the reason, so they could clean up their image. This is Japan.... a country that is overly concerned about its "image" to the outside world. A country that is willing to put up with crime as long as it can be kept a secret to the outside world and often to its own people. We get harped on all the time about being "Japan Bashers", but its is not without justification. Especially if you've been here a long time. Its still a great place to live and I love it.... but I don't like the hypocrisy. The we're better than thou, especially when crime does exist and much of it goes unreported. If Japan was upfront about it I wouldn't be complaining as much, but don't hide it.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

If you look at actuary tables this is not so far off what is expected based on population size. How these people are treated etc. is another subject

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during the parliamentary committee session in which the document was presented, "I heard about this for the first time now and I don't know what to say. I understand the Justice Ministry will investigate it."

Useless PM

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

69 out of 258,000? Sounds like a less than average death rate to me. It's good to hear these interns have it so good compared to where they came from

4 ( +12 / -8 )

I would expect the number to be under 5 for young, healthy people with access to healthcare. Thoroughly disgusting.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

Death rates by age in Japan can be found on the government's statistics site (www.e-stat.go.jp).

For 2015 the total number of deaths in the 20-29 age range was 4717.

The population of the 20-29 age range was 12,176,342, therefore, the death rate was 3.874e-4.

For the trainees we have 69 deaths over a 2 year period, or 34.5 deaths per year.

The population of trainees was 258000, therefore the death rate was 1.337e-4. This is about 1/3 of the rate for the general Japanese population.

I would assume the difference is due to higher suicide rates in the general Japanese population than in the countries from which the trainees originate.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

The document also listed the date of death, nationality, age, sex and occupation of the interns, who were aged from 18 to 44 with nearly 70 percent of them in their 20s.

So 70% of the 69 who died in the two years between 2015 and 2017 were in their 20s, comes out to about 48 people. In this article there is no number of how many "technical interns" total were working during those two years ( we only get the "as of October last year" number, I guess it's hard to measure as numbers fluctuate), but compared to a cohort of Japanese peers in the same time frame, is the rate high or low? Is this sinister or a clickbaity presentation of data?

Either way, it's a sad world when 20-year-olds, Japanese or foreign, are dying. It means something went wrong.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

I saw that news on Japanese TV and they interview some of the foreign interns. Most of them were complaining of working long hours and getting a very low wage for their work. Some of them are paid as low as 300 yen an hour. Some of them work on a double night and day shift. No wonder why some of these interns are committing suicide. The working conditions are awful and they are away from their home country without any support from their family or friends. Their social life is basically limited to the company that hired them. They are treated like cheap labors. The government really need to imposed some strict guideline to the company that are willing to welcome foreign interns. It's not because they are coming from foreign countries that they have to be treated like slaves!

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

@Scrote: I would assume the difference is due to higher suicide rates in the general Japanese population than in the countries from which the trainees originate.

You are comparing apples to oranges. Your Japanese statistics include all Japanese, including those in the hospital and otherwise ill. The interns are presumabely vetted and healthy before being invited to Japan.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

You are comparing apples to oranges. Your Japanese statistics include all Japanese, including those in the hospital and otherwise ill.

OK. The same statistics web site also lists causes of death. For Japanese in the 15-24 age range there were 3321 deaths in 2015, of which 2556 were due to accidents, transport accidents and suicide. The rest were due to various diseases which you want to exclude.

In the 25-44 age range there were 21337 deaths, of which 8682 were due to accidents, transport accidents and suicides. Diseases caused a lot more deaths in this age group.

Nevertheless, even if we exclude deaths from diseases from the calculation the Japanese death rate still exceeds that of the trainees. (I estimate the death rate due to accidents as the 3.874e-4 figure I gave above, multiplied by 8682/21337 to give a death rate of 1.576e-4).

Happy now?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Samurai DaveToday 10:05 am JST

I saw that news on Japanese TV and they interview some of the foreign interns. Most of them were complaining of working long hours and getting a very low wage for their work. Some of them are paid as low as 300 yen an hour.

Internships aren't paid positions in Japan, the organizing company pays their living expenses and they are there to learn skills, not get rich.

You seem to be under the impression they are free slave labour, in fact there are large time investments to train interns to perform tasks relevant to their field of study and they are often only engaged for a couple of months. Unless they get hired on full time later, having interns is a financial expense for most office based businesses.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

So if they don't get arrested and deported, then they work until they die.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

"How does this compare to the number of deaths of Japanese doing the same jobs? " There aren't any...

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

So these foreign interns have a lower death rate than native Japanese and far higher wages and technical opportunities than in their home countries, and they're complaining?

This is a good way to create heavy resentment towards these visitors and they should be careful about creating a backash against them as we are seeing everywhere around the world

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Reducing the death rate to mere statistics is looking at the forest and not the trees. These are human beings, for Gods sake. 69 people who came to Japan healthy, ended up dead and all we can think of is whether this is normal compared to general statistics.

 It's good to hear these interns have it so good compared to where they came from

Considering the fact that they were alive in the country where they came from, I don't think they had it so good.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Yeah, in being hired by yakuza subcontractors ("Who could have known?") and forced to work long hours only and never escape debt put ON them through coming here, they no doubt drank the pesticide or hopped on the train tracks (Japan's favorite method of suicide) "by accident".

The main parties sure Don't want to talk about this as they ram through a bill that will ensure ZERO protections for incoming foreign workers, and guarantee that this suicide rate increases as companies continue to profit of what is essentially slave labor.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

A total of 69 foreigners, mainly in their 20s, working as part of Japan's technical intern program died between 2015 and 2017, 

In many cases there was only a brief description of the cause of death, such as "traffic accident," "drowning," "suicide" and "heart failure."

Heart failure in their 20's? Kind of hard to believe at their age. I'm sure it's due to poor health dieting from over work and eating and excessive drinking due to their excessive work hours.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

The population of trainees was 258000, therefore the death rate was 1.337e-4. This is about 1/3 of the rate for the general Japanese population.

The samples are completely different in size and composition. Given the grave and serious issues with the technical intern program under discussion in the media, a conclusion like this

 It's good to hear these interns have it so good compared to where they came from

Is absurd

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

@Scrote: Nevertheless, even if we exclude deaths from diseases from the calculation the Japanese death rate still exceeds that of the trainees. (I estimate the death rate due to accidents as the 3.874e-4 figure I gave above, multiplied by 8682/21337 to give a death rate of 1.576e-4).

Happy now?

Making an enormous assumption that your figures and math are correct, I guess being on the work program is safer than being an average Joe in Japan. Perhaps comparing their death rate in Japan as opposed to the home country would also be helpful. In any case, RIP.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

If these are work related deaths this would be a shockingly high rate of attrition. Each death is a tragedy but without good investigation results it’s impossible to make a comparison. In the face of years of complaints of exploitation it appears worth a closer look.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Japanese Prime Minister smirked "I cannot answer because did not know about it" despite serious problem about their bill.

Minister and Bureaucrats repeated "investigate afterwards" only.

Japanese authorities tampered with even expression of public documents to understate this problem.

Japanese Abe regime feels nothing about inhumane treatment against foreign workers.

Japan had exploited needy foreigners as Disposable Cheap labor with taking advantage of "Interns" who are not defended with the Labor Standards Law.

It has caused Many Human Rights Violations such as Violence,Bullying,Harassment,Sexual Abuse,illegal Low Wages,Confiscation of Passport,Overtime payment unpaid,No compensation despite Occupational injury.

Moreover,Such cruel situations caused even suicides,fugitives,overworking death and crime.

besides,Foreigners who escaped from unbearable and painful working place are captured as criminal by Japan's Immigration Bureau that is hotbed of Racism and Human Rights Violation.

Japanese Abe Government and Ruling Party ignore such innumerable problems and try to expand modern version Slavery.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

They are just numbers, in a system that sees foreign workers as nothing more than disposable items . These particular ones just happened to be " rejects " before their use-by dates . Why are people making a fuss ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The placement of thumbs up and thumbs down to the comments above are appalling. The number of deaths is JUST within 2 years!

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said (...) I understand the Justice Ministry will investigate it."

As the Prime Minister, shouldn't he ensure they will investigate it?!?

...with the aim of transferring skills to developing countries

I hope they transfer the great knowledge they gained about treatment of employees here

With Japan moving to more broadly accept foreign workers

Please don't

@Wellington

So these foreign interns have a lower death rate than native Japanese and far higher wages and technical opportunities than in their home countries, and they're complaining?

What, people should expect slavery and/or death, just because they are getting an opportunity others' might not have? Hasn't anything good ever happened to you?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's interesting to read so many posts trying to justify these deaths with comparative statistics of Japanese workers. These young people are (were) not Japanese, which means comparative statistics are irrelevant. It should also be noted that, there is no accurate breakdown of these statistics, which I believe is a deliberate attempt to hide why so many of these young people have died. Young people do not just die of heart ailments unless they are under extreme duress and hardship. No doubt, they have worked themselves to death (karoshi) and it is being hidden. They also fail to mention how many deaths were from suicide, which again would have to be work and lifestyle related. I suspect only very few would be from traffic accidents or existing health problems. This situation of importing foreign workers and exploiting them is very reminiscent of the wartime forced laborers from 80 odd years ago. These young people are put into low paying positions and forced to work excessive hours and in dangerous situations while constantly being threatened with being fired and sent home. There has already been three of these interns who were forced to work in the Fukushima Dai-ichi clean up, while their employer pocketed all their allowances for dangerous work, even though they were not supposed to be working there at all.

However, on the other hand, what these young foreigners are being put through, is not so different to what many young Japanese interns get put through. My step-daughter is a qualified nurse and took her first job in a private hospital a little over a year ago after graduating university. She is working 12 hour rotating shifts with two Sundays off per month. She is made to do all the cleaning of the wards and is on constant bedpan duty. She rarely gets to do any actual nursing. Two hours of her daily salary is unpaid and considered 'set up time'. The only real difference between her position and that of the foreign trainees is, her salary is quite substantial by comparison. She dare not complain about the working conditions for fear of being fired.

Japanese labor law is a flipping joke! They enslave workers and expect them to be grateful for it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

69 deaths. 69 people who came to this land, seeking a better life, now lie at rest, with their grief stricken loved ones.

forsaken by the very land they wanted to call home.

No nation is perfect. Because no one can be perfect, because perfect is just a word, much like a number, is just a number. - when people start treating people like numbers, that's when you realize, you are but apart of the very numerical machine that drives the world.

I can only respect those who come to this country looking for hope. To let go of familiar lands, to leave behind loved ones, whether out of reasons out of their control, or of their own volition, I can only respect them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The samples are completely different in size and composition. Given the grave and serious issues with the technical intern program under discussion in the media, a conclusion like this is absurd

The sample size for the Japanese population is obviously bigger, but that doesn't change the conclusion. I don't understand what you mean by saying the "composition" is different: please explain.

The fact is the figures for the internees show a lower death rate than Japanese: if you think the figures are incorrect please explain in detail why you think that is, and what other factors should be taken into account. If you believe my figures are wrong please check them yourself on the web site (www.e-stat.go.jp). If you find a mistake in my calculations I will be happy if you point out where it is (be specific).

There are many problems with the intern program, but a higher death rate does not appear to be one of them. Just because you don't like the intern program doesn't mean you can assume all statistics about it are incorrect.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

69 out of 258,000 works out to fewer than 3 deaths per 10,000. Of course, if one is one of the three, then that statistic is meaningless.

According to the web source that I checked, the death rate among 15 to 24 year olds here in the states comes to about 29 per 10,000, or about ten times higher than the stats for foreigners working in Japan in the tech industry.

In Japan, the overall death rate for all ages is about 100 per 10,000. Again, significantly higher than the death rate mentioned in the article.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

People dying as interns, it is not the maths, I hope that U will think this way, if those interns were in yr family.how will U feel abt , one of yr family members died while working in a overseas country ???.Pls statics or numbers are easy but to feel the pain is not. I want to belive that Good Japanese will never allow this. Allow yrselves to feel once again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It depends upon the role, at the high end, I've seen this situation first hand. The pressure upon the intern is intense, it's like an extended trial interview - perform or be let go, and if you're let go, everyone else will know so you won't be hired elsewhere. A bit like groundhog day on your Final Degree exam day, every day of your internship. You need to get to work on a precise time, leave at well it (doesn't matter), carry out an insane workload, and deal with a ton of abuse. And afterwards, you still are not guaranteed a placement! That, is stressful. Interns in such cases need Support, perhaps a multilingual equivalent to TELL specifically for Interns and one that has some bite when it comes to enforcing rules (that may yet need to be devised).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Question is, if a company or organization is going to invest so much on each person coming to Japan for training, how can the government think of sending them home after 5 years? This too shall pass.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@scrotes, you just picking those numbers from general population statistics, that’s pretty messed up statistic you made.  Just use existing official compiled report rather than making that kind of ridiculous statistics flaws.

Those interns had numerous medical and health check, they were in good condition before they arrived in Japan. There is a comparison between those interns with Japanese people of the same age, the death caused by heart disease for those interns are twice. This is really a common cause for worker who suffered overwork.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2010/08/03/issues/dying-to-work-japan-inc-s-foreign-trainees/

*“…the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO), which manages and oversees all foreign trainees and interns, “The rate of death of heart disease of trainees and technical interns was almost double the rate for Japanese of the same age.”…”*

Those intern death rate compared to Japanese worker is also more than twice. 

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201812050041.html

*“…The ministry’s study was based on reports submitted to local labor standard inspection offices ……an annual average of 3.64 deaths for every 100,000 foreign technical trainees….…Among all Japanese workers, the average figure between 2014 and 2017 was 1.73 fatalities for every 100,000 workers…”*

Whether those intern passed away or still alive they gone through harsh working condition.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2010/08/03/issues/dying-to-work-japan-inc-s-foreign-trainees/

*“…Many were working 100 hours of overtime on top of regular working hours of 350 hours per month….Jiang was 31 when he died of heart failure….had worked as many as 109 hours of overtime – on top of his 350 regular working hours – in the months before his death….”*

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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