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Japan grapples with foreign worker protection as border reopens

Patchy government response leaves interns reliant on support groups for help

Passengers arrive at Haneda International Airport on Oct. 11. Japan had imposed strict travel restrictions over the COVID-19 pandemic, which at one point led to a large backlog of foreign interns waiting to enter the country.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Complaints of abuses against foreign workers in Japan's government-sponsored internship program are increasing once again as the country opens up to more international arrivals, highlighting flaws in its response five years after enacting a law meant to provide better safeguards.

Two Vietnamese technical interns contacted a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization via social media in early October, saying that they were working overtime for just 400 yen ($2.75) an hour and that they wanted help finding a new placement.

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