Disadvantages and Risks in Japan’s Technical Intern Training Program (Continuation)
Part II: Debt
Many of the trainees had accrued significant debt during their time in the TITP that, in effect, prevented them from leaving their jobs. Some trainees reported that they need to pay off recruitment fees led them to endure difficult experiences in Japan, and most reported feeling it was impossible to leave their job before paying off their debt. Some trainees paid an average of 403, 850 Pesos (¥807,700) in recruitment fees, over eight times the average monthly wage the trainees received in Japan.
Many trainees reported taking on debt to secure their positions, leaving them highly vulnerable to the threat of financial penalties. While most trainees borrowed money from friends and relatives to pay recruitment fees, some obtained loans from Philippine banks by mortgaging their homes. In most cases, regardless of the party to whom the debt was held, its existence acted as a binding agent, leading trainees to feel they had no choice but to serve out their three-year trainee term in order to pay off the debt incurred.
Many trainees reported paying a deposit during the recruitment process as part of their recruitment fees. Trainees reported that they were told the deposit would be forfeited if they left the program before completing the full three years. One trainee paid a deposit, with amounts ranging from 38,100 Pesos (¥76,200) to 76,200 Pesos (¥152,400). Similarly, some trainees reported being required to take out IOUs that were presented as a form of debt that they would have to repay should they fail to meet agreed-upon conditions. IOUs generally required trainees to find a guarantor – typically a family member – for their debt.
Some trainees reported that mandatory training and exams associated with the TITP inflated their debt. According to experts consulted, it is not uncommon for Philippine agencies to require aspiring TITP trainees to take a month of Japanese language classes before departing for Japan, at a cost ranging from 22,850 to 38,100 Pesos (¥45,700 – 76,200). Trainees reported that the classes only taught very basic Japanese. Trainees were required to live at Japanese language schools while taking classes, which cost them another 15,250 to 22,850 Pesos (¥30,500 – ¥45,700). The language schools were reportedly often owned and run by Philippine agencies, and in some cases, the school principals were also the CEOs of the Philippine agencies.
Some trainees reported struggling with a high cost of living, which could also inflate debt burdens. The average cost of rent and utilities was JPY 30,400 (15,200 Pesos) per month, equivalent to one-quarter of their average pay. In some extreme scenarios, among trainees interviewed, rent plus utilities reached JPY 50,000 (25,000 Pesos), accounting for almost half of the average monthly wages.
In the next blog we will talk about the Limited Freedom of Movement and Communication; Confiscation of Identity Documents! Stay tuned!!!