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Pregnant workers in Japan's controversial intern program face abuse

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By Tomohiro OSAKI

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Many layers of evil run through this program.

34 ( +38 / -4 )

But advocates say that is likely the "tip of the iceberg", and no statistics capture how many others have been pressured to avoid or end pregnancies.

They still wait for precise statistics? While it's obviously there?

"Most technical interns are of reproductive age... but the idea of them getting pregnant during their stay in Japan is often considered out of the question," said Masako Tanaka, a Sophia University professor who studies the reproductive rights of migrant women.

Having kids, maternity leave, paternity leave it's out of question for most Japanese workplace.

12 ( +18 / -6 )

My friend from Sri Lanka got a scholarship to Tokyo University. During the course of his study, his mentor, a university lecturer told him, if you marry a Japanese woman i will not pass you. He was seriously dating someone at the time and he felt it ruined his life (girl left him and he didn't find another)

19 ( +24 / -5 )

The whole scheme is just modern day slavery, by the back door. Imagine how desperate someone must be to not only want to work in Japan, but also to give birth in Japan.

16 ( +30 / -14 )

But "maternity harassment" remains a problem for Japanese women, and foreign technical interns are often even more vulnerable.

And the government wonders why Japan's birthrate continues to hit new lows every year.

As for this intern program, it's legalized slavery and a way for many companies to skirt around employee and labor rights. More so since these trainees are all from abroad and we all know how foreigners are treated in Japan. However, will the Japanese government do something to address any of the issues in this article? I highly doubt it.

19 ( +25 / -6 )

Technical interns are covered by Japanese laws banning harassment or discrimination based on pregnancy.

Japan needs to address its lack of enforcement of the laws already on the books about anti-discrimination, labor and business practices.

The "authorities" are allergic to processing any member of Japan Inc. in a business suit and collude with the entrenched bureaucracy to make it so abuses are swept under the rug and violators suffer little or no consequences.

23 ( +26 / -3 )

Remember a few years back when a contracted worker was charged with murdering her baby after giving birth in the airport prior to her flight home. Japan contracted this labor and wrote the contract so if there is nothing concern pregnancy then they after to allow her to stay. No doubt this contracted worker pay taxes so deserves the same rights has a tax payer. This will prompt them to think about their slave contracts. Japan don’t want this case in front of the international Human right court. So they want this to play out here and come to a one off legal arrangement. If she stick to her guns there a good chance of obtaining legal residency.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

told her supervisors she was pregnant, she says they first suggested an abortion and then pressured her to quit.

This is just screwed up in so many ways.

22 ( +23 / -1 )

In Singapore, female foreign guest workers of reproductive age are regularly subjected to pregnancy tests and if they test positive they will be deported immediately. Maybe Japan should emulate the Singaporean way.

-19 ( +4 / -23 )

This article's details i find to be extremely innapropriate upsetting and disturbing.

Trying to force Vanessa to have an abortion or to quit her job should be a crime !

Why would Vanessa want to return to Japan ?

Very surprised to find that Linh received a suspended 3 month sentence that she's appealing.

Poor baby boys.

These issues that Japan has of maternity ,paternity ,sexism, racial prejudice ,human rights ,and the justice system are truly disgusting and cruel.

Japan needs radical change in a more positive direction.

Its situations like this that the international community and especially the USA doesn't want to deal with Japan anymore.

-3 ( +13 / -16 )

Agree with all above. this is institutionalized slavery. This really should be addressed in the UN where Japan should be shamed for human rights violations.

Japan needs to address its lack of enforcement of the laws already on the books about anti-discrimination, labor and business practices.

exactly. Laws in Japan are not worth the paper they are faxed on. What's the point of having laws if they are going to be ignored? Oh that's right. Tatemae.

4 ( +20 / -16 )

Nothing will change if you don't name and shame individuals or companies doing this. It will help future workers to avoid working with these toxic individuals.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

These women must be so desperate for work that they would come to one of the most in-hospital places on Earth for foreign workers.

And this in the face of a growing and desperate need for Japan to get more foreign workers.

2 ( +13 / -11 )

letsberealisticToday  08:05 am JST

These women must be so desperate for work that they would come to one of the most inhospitable places on Earth for foreign workers.

And this in the face of a growing and desperate need for Japan to get more foreign workers.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

Japanese women face difficulties and discrimination due to pregnancy. At least they can’t get deported. Think of how hard it is for foreign trainees/ interns. I know a couple ex interns who couldn’t handle the low pay and abuse and married the first Japanese guy they could find for a visa.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

Unless a deep reform is done and effective punishment dealt to those found guilty of abuse this is not much different from institutionalized abuse.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

I wish more people knew how disgustingly exploitative this program really is so that they wouldn't apply for it in the first place.

3 ( +13 / -10 )

Many layers of evil run through this program.

You are not wrong. But let's just upgrade 'program' to 'country'.

This isn't an opportune bash at Japan, there is evil everywhere. I'm am however fed up of hearing about all the stories of harassment (in all it's forms), political and commercial corruption (in all it's forms), the persecution of various groups of society, the xenophobia, the passive aggressiveness... I could go on - while being told that Japan is the most polite and respectful country in the world. Nah, not having it.

My country is far from perfect, and has it's fair share of problems, but if it came out that pregnant employees (interns, volunteers, whoever) were told to get an abortion, and then fired when they didn't, their would be a huge public outcry, significant national debate, and severe action would be taken against that company and all those directly involved in such sick action.

Here however, it's all about the wa and not nearly enough is ever made about cases such as this.

Maybe a new series of posters will appear with a kawaii character in the coming months.

4 ( +15 / -11 )

When Vanessa, a worker with Japan's "technical intern" program, told her supervisors she was pregnant, she says they first suggested an abortion and then pressured her to quit.

Heartless slaver runners , nothing else.

Reports of pregnancy-based discrimination in 2019 prompted Japan's immigration agency to remind employers about the rights of interns.

A reminder?..thats some heavy duty action taken there.

Now back in the Philippines, Vanessa says she was told her pregnancy would give fellow Filipina trainees a bad reputation. They said "because of my situation... the 'value' of Filipino trainees will decrease," she recalled.

Name and shame the company publicly.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

South Korea has pretty much abolished the programs long ago, and they allowed foreigners to become full-time workers. Unlike Koreans, Japanese people are prideful and mostly xenophobic. The very fear of seeing foreigners being better than them is prevalent in Japan's consciousness. Just look at Zainichi Koreans, Japan institutionally discriminates against them in every way, yet Japanese Koreans still emerge successful in Japan like Masayoshi Son or Han Chang-woo. For Koreans who later obtain their citizenship, they have to hide their names and still suffer discrimination if their background is ever uncovered.

In fact, the huge dislike ratios against anything that is considered "pro-Korea" in this site should tell you how much Japan is being xenophobic. I bet my comment will be downvoted to oblivion on netto-uyoku for being "pro-Korea". That's just a case for Koreans literally living in Japan for generations, not even talking about new foreign entries!

The evil of trainee programs will remain due to Japan's refusal to allow full-time foreign workers in a massive number.

-4 ( +15 / -19 )

My friend from Sri Lanka got a scholarship to Tokyo University. During the course of his study, his mentor, a university lecturer told him, if you marry a Japanese woman i will not pass you. 

While it's a good tale, I have no idea what it has anything to do with the article in question.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

In Singapore, female foreign guest workers of reproductive age are regularly subjected to pregnancy tests and if they test positive they will be deported immediately. Maybe Japan should emulate the Singaporean way.

Exactly. It is what it is, but it's not a secret. The foreign domestic workers have such a clause in their contracts.

-14 ( +0 / -14 )

Since over a decade I am against this slave program!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

These women must be so desperate for work that they would come to one of the most in-hospital places on Earth for foreign workers.

And this in the face of a growing and desperate need for Japan to get more foreign workers.

Actually, not many do. The quotas set by the Japanese government have never even been close to having been filled.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Neantherthal , knuckles dragging hatred of women

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Unlike Koreans, Japanese people are prideful and mostly xenophobic. 

Tell that to the English teachers in South Korea who were deported due to visa technicalities. Or the Yemeni refugees whom thousands of Koreans petitioned to deport.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

As disgusting as it is to be made aware of these cases of human rights abuse at least it is being publicized via a Japanese news site.

A small step in the right direction for Japan.

Am i the only one that is surprised at the Vietnamese woman's suspended 3 months conviction that she's appealing ?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

If the term ブラック企業 is a thing that still exists and the government refuses to do anything but name and shame them, do you think there are any chances that conditions would improve in the "imported slavery" program?

4 ( +8 / -4 )

If the term ブラック企業 is a thing that still exists and the government refuses to do anything but name and shame them

And they very rarely do even that.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

The program, which had around 275,000 workers from countries including China and Vietnam last year, is supposed to give participants specialized experience that will be of use in their home country.

This is not true.

Some cheap end kombini workforce from Vietnam or Nepal cant get any "specialized experience" from that.

This program is just of tool of exploitation of cheap end labor force mainly from East Asia region who can work overtime and for lowest end hourly working wage japanese people will never do.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Sorry no sympathy!

I spent years as a single father no company cared and it isn't their job to care, I chose to have children that wasy choice I had to live with the consequences.

This is a joke?

Instead, the 25-year-old Filipina says bosses pushed her and her partner for an abortion despite terminations being both taboo and a crime in her deeply Catholic homeland.

If they are so worried about "sin" and the church, then perhaps they should have started with the basic RC rule of no sex outside of marriage.

This isy problem with religion and the religious that pick and choose what they want to follow and then fall back on their " religious beliefs" when it is convenient.

If you cannot afford to have a child, or having a child will interfere with your plans, then use your head and don't get pregnant or get someone pregnant their are many choices to use to avoid unplanned pregnancy and if none is acceptable in your religious beliefs then probably sex isn't a good choice until you can handle a child.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

We go on about human rights and abuse, etc...

But why is it a woman chooses to have a child, others end up paying?

By this I mean presently my wife has to not only handle her work but that of a coworker that is on maternity leave.

I have had the same situation many times.

But theses people return and just walk right back into their job while we got burnout.

And no the company rarely can hire a replacement because who in their right mind is going to take a job knowing they are going to be fired once the person they are replacing returns from maternity leave.

Yes I know it isn't fair, so what no one ever said life was fair.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

I spent year's as a single father.

I chose to have children.

How does a father choose to have children ?

You must be the first man on earth to have children ?

That's amazing !

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

But why is it a woman chooses to have a child, others end up paying?

Why is it that my children will grow up to pay taxes that benefit people other than me?

By this I mean presently my wife has to not only handle her work but that of a coworker that is on maternity leave.

Sounds like she is under-appreciated, maybe she should go out and find a new job.

who in their right mind is going to take a job knowing they are going to be fired once the person they are replacing returns from maternity leave.

Have you never heard of temping? It exists everywhere, and often pays much better than minimum wage.

But theses people return and just walk right back into their job while we got burnout.

And when you are old and retired, these peoples kids will be grinding to make sure the economy still functions, and paying taxes to cover your pension and health insurance.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Antiquesaving

not only did she grow the child in her womb and works more than her fair share but she has to put up with her husband's non appreciation and tantrums.

Is that fair ?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

No sympathy here, either.

Sorry about that.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

@ Antiquesaving

I spent years as a single father no company cared and it isn't their job to care

Do you really considere not being pushed to abortion or quitting to be cared for ?

It is illegal.

If they are so worried about "sin" and the church, then perhaps they should have started with the basic RC rule of no sex outside of marriage.

You have no idea of what are her religious belief nor her marital state under her religious belief so ...

sex isn't a good choice until you can handle a child

Who said she could not handle a child ? She has a job, she was not alone, ... The problem was the employer which refused to respect the law.

waahing about parental leave

That is just full of non sense. Companies willing to can easily deal with this issue. As any type of leave, expected or not. They just do not want. Finding short term replacement : easy peasy, that is call : temporary worker you got them from temp agency or as direct hire. If the company prefer to just push the job on someone else it is because they are stingy. Nothing more.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Because only low skilled foreign workers have to choose between family and career.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Have you never heard of temping? It exists everywhere, and often pays much better than minimum wage.

So basically use and abuse someone else because anyone that has been a temp staff knows that is the way things are.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

And when you are old and retired, these peoples kids will be grinding to make sure the economy still functions, and paying taxes to cover your pension and health insurance.

I have my children to do that and I didn't ask others to pay for my children.

Oh and BTW the facts are most single people actually put more money a retirement aside than those that had children and end up relying less on the government and government services then those that did have children.

It's quite simple they save their money for their old age as people like myself and other people who have children spent that money on their children so yeah I'll need my children probably to help me as as I get old as for my brother who has no children he's got plenty of money to take care of himself!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

not only did she grow the child in her womb and works more than her fair share but she has to put up with her husband's non appreciation and tantrums.

Is that fair ?

Again whoever said life is fair and again no one told her to have kids she has a problem with it don't have children!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

capitalism at its best.

when cheap end east asian labourer is just some random number but not a human.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

FluteToday  11:30 am JST

You have no idea of what are her religious belief nor her marital state under her religious belief so ...

Did you read the article?

I guess not!

From the article!

Instead, the 25-year-old Filipina says bosses pushed her and her partner for an abortion despite terminations being both taboo and a crime in her deeply Catholic homeland.

If she wasn't RC then why mention the above.?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What a depressing article from a profoundly uncaring society.

Put the oxygen mask on yourselves first, people.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

And when you are old and retired, these peoples kids will be grinding to make sure the economy still functions, and paying taxes to cover your pension and health insurance.

Actually no it's going to be people like my brother and my brother-in-law both of whom chose not to have children make a lot of money pay higher taxes because they don't have any deductions for children but still have to pay for school taxes and everything else despite not having any children and having a considerable amount of money left in the bank they're the ones that are going to end up paying.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

And when you are old and retired, these peoples kids will be grinding to make sure the economy still functions, and paying taxes to cover your pension and health insurance

Ok let's get this fallacy out of the way.

Use logic or at least try.

Who is going to need help for government support most in their old age?

A-) the dual income no kids couple that have paid taxes higher than people with children saved more money for their retirement.

B-) the single person no kids pays a whole load of taxes because no marital discount and no children discount and has put considerable amount of money aside for his for her retirement.

C-) the married couple with two to three children the spent most of their savings on their child's education clothing and everything else and have little aside for their retirement.

Now think and think hard.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

MickeliciousToday  11:54 am JST

What a depressing article from a profoundly uncaring society.

Put the oxygen mask on yourselves first, people.

Not sure your point?

In an emergency putting on your oxygen mask first is exactly what you're supposed to do and once you're safe you can help others otherwise you all end up gone.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

That's just disgusting! But the saddest part is that I'm not surprised anymore after just 3 years of living here... It's the "norm" and so many Japanese people have been seriously "brainwashed" by the social engineering that now think this is OK...

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Antiquesaving -

I wasnt referring to her or the article.

Referring to you and your comment about your own wife and kids .

Obviously not appreciated.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

My friend from Sri Lanka got a scholarship to Tokyo University. During the course of his study, his mentor, a university lecturer told him, if you marry a Japanese woman i will not pass you. He was seriously dating someone at the time and he felt it ruined his life (girl left him and he didn't find another)

I smell a lawsuit with this; not to mention harrassment. I would get the evidence in writing and then report that professor. Tell the media too, to expose this scum.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Technical interns are covered by Japanese laws banning harassment or discrimination based on pregnancy.

That law is covered under an inch of dust.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Now think and think hard.

I wish I lived in this imaginary world where every Tom, Dick and Taro under the rising sun has saved enough to live for 20-30 years with no assistance. You are probably one of those people who believes that poverty doesn't exist in Japan, and everyone here still gets treated to the perks of lifetime employment. People with no children still struggle financially.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Obviously not appreciated.

Well I know facts annoy most SJW.

I mean why use logic? Why use facts?

When you can use your feelings as facts!

Because that is what most here are doing.

"Oh how mean" "oh someone do something"

Then when their taxes go up to pay for other people's kids, when the products in the stores get more expensive because the companies have to cover the cost of these people, then you will jump up and down about something needs to be done to lower taxes and prices.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

You are probably one of those people who believes that poverty doesn't exist in Japan, 

And you are obviously not very well informed!

Because if you were you would know about me I have told a great deal about my life as a single father and the "poverty" we had to endure!

If it is between the two of us the one more likely to have no idea about poverty in Japan would be you, because I was in the "below poverty level" income for some time when my children were very young.

Welcome to reality!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

People with no children still struggle financially.

Really?

As a single man no children I could have gotten a job at anytime working nights in a convenience store, etc.... Found a cheap apartment or rooming house.

As a single father.

Forget it! Night work? How? Who will watch the children?

What convenience store job pays enough to pay rent on a place big and safe enough to raise children in?

I chose to have children with my ex wife, she chose to leave them to go out and pursue a high flying high paying career and never looked back.

I knuckled down and did everything I could to survive, I made my bed so I had to lie in it and not expect others to bail me out.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Antiquesaving

Did you read the article?

I guess not!

From the article!

Instead, the 25-year-old Filipina says bosses pushed her and her partner for an abortion despite terminations being both taboo and a crime in her deeply Catholic homeland.

If she wasn't RC then why mention the above.?

I guess better than you. Even thouht you quoted it you fail to notice there is nothing in what you quote refeering about her how belief. She could be an atheist but still not want aborption because whatever including the fact it is actually a crime in her homeland where she will be returning at some point. She also could be a catholic but that gave you 0 information about from which church. She can also be of any other belief.

Whatever are her belief or not, you have no right to decide if she is a good enough follower or not. It is in between her and her god or whatever she see fit.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It’s a common myth that these interns/ trainees are low skilled. They’re not. I had a girlfriend from the Philippines who was an intern. She had a masters degree in engineering. The problem is that an engineer in the Philippines usually makes a lot less than taking up a cleaning job at a Japanese hotel that pays 180,000 yen a month.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I knew a women that was hired on a military base but came under Japanese contract, she had like three children in a row and for about 4 years she worked maybe 6 months, other women had to cover for her this whole time

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@Dave, about the same experience in the company I worked before. Two young female employees (one Japanese and one foreigner) got pregnant at about the same time, and after birth, about one year later they became pregnant again - the same situation - during their long absence the other staff, mostly not so young women after menopause had to do their work as overtime.

It was not such a problem for us, a bigger company with enough staff - but I understand a small business in Japan which has only a few employees will find itself surely in trouble.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It is a multi-faceted problem, but let's not overlook the main reason "patriarchal Japanese culture"

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

this is disguisting! but i'm not surprised... this program comes with pros and cons so if businesses don't want to run the risk of having an "intern" give birth to a human being then don't join the program!

human beings do human things such as having children something this country needs to understand!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Looking at the comments in the article, I think Japan should really think about changing their rules about foreign workers especially trainees.

Unlike English, Japanese language is a huge barrier to overcome giving Japan the higher ground when negotiating working conditions and salary.

While we should continue to force Japan to change its ways in treating trainees, we also should be prepared to learn Japanese language, respect Japanese culture, and accept that Japan is still scared of letting foreigners inside because of the 3 things I just mentioned above.

Same in our home country, you can't get a decent salary if you're uneducated, can't read/write, can't cope with change. Why come to Japan and cry about how you get lower salary than native Japanese.

Just saying.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Pregnant, go home, mother come back.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

An absolutely plummeting working age population, women declining to get married let alone have children, a possible long-term immigrant of working age gets pregnant and first thing she is told is to get an abortion. Obviously no wonder nothing changes.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

RecklessToday  04:49 pm JST

An absolutely plummeting working age population, women declining to get married let alone have children, a possible long-term immigrant of working age gets pregnant and first thing she is told is to get an abortion. Obviously no wonder nothing changes.

Not saying it is right but at the same time, a tiny country the size of Japan through technology can do just fine with half the present population.

This is no longer a country that needs a lot of manual labour as in the past, smaller population, better technology more comfortable living and people will have just enough children to be comfortable!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

We all know by now what this is ""MODERN DAYS SLAVERY"" nothing less but a lot more.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Technical intern program is only 3 years. It basically means you are hired for fixed tenors of 3 years with 3years visa. I just can't understand what's so wrong with planning and avoiding it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

For better or worse having children is a personal choice and a human right. If they want machines then I guess robots will be more appropriate.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

AntiquesavingToday  10:47 am JST

Sorry no sympathy!

If you cannot afford to have a child, or having a child will interfere with your plans, then use your head and don't get pregnant or get someone pregnant their are many choices to use to avoid unplanned pregnancy and if none is acceptable in your religious beliefs then probably sex isn't a good choice until you can handle a child.

Could not say it better, especially if you are ready to leave your own country and prefer to work overseas because of better income. Pregnancy is by choice and not an illness. 

You cannot expect as a foreigner that citizens of the host country will pay for you all medical expenses and maternity leave in case you get pregnant shortly after arrival from somebody and you stay away from your working place for months after giving birth. Maternity harassment is a misleading word for such a situation. 

You should consider pregnancy only if you can afford it. It is not easy to take care of children, while living away from your native country as a single mother. Is this so difficult to understand?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

From what I understand and please correct me if I am wrong. The intent of the program is to provide the interns with skills they can learn in Japan and take back to their countries and make them useful. What I am reading is these women are working and getting pregnant with the intent of either finding a husband or staying in Japan. Ok I get it, some want to have their babies and return to work. The rules seem to be the same as the women in Japan. They find a job, work and many find husband in the companies they work for and they marry get pregnant and they are forced to leave, or they know they are expected to leave and they leave voluntarily. Now with that said if you are going to a company to get training as an intern, make sure you get the training you need, and if you are on a whoopee cushion ride at least protect yourself. Why make yourself worse off knowing you will have to fight a system that is already in place that doesn't allow the women born in the country to go against the in grained cultural beliefs.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

He was seriously dating someone at the time and he felt it ruined his life (girl left him and he didn't find another)

That would be his problem though...^^

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

What did you expect ? It's another reason / excuse to abuse people (foreigners).

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Who are these animals???.Black list them and make sure these animals never make another minute in business. Send their names and business to the press.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

2 friends of mines managed to get paternity leave......1 guy to the letter of the law and was off for many months (with resulting lowering salary) and 1 guy managed to squeeze a month or so out of the school we were working for. A female gaij colleague also managed to get maternity leave but to keep her position open, they told her she had to find her temporary replacement teacher......she got one, but that is still pretty messed up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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