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Japan immigration

Japan's foreign intern debate focuses on freedom to change jobs

New report outlines replacing program that has become a source of cheap labor

A technical intern works at a farm in Gunma prefecture. The program has become a key source of labor in Japan for such shorthanded sectors as agriculture and manufacturing. (Photo by Tanadori Yoshida)

TOKYO -- An expert government panel outlined plans to replace Japan's foreign intern program with one more in line with reality in a report published Friday as the conversation shifts to such specifics as when and how often the workers should be allowed to switch jobs.

Established in 1993, Japan's Technical Intern Training Program ostensibly provides on-the-job training to foreign workers so that they can bring key skills and technologies back home. But the framework in practice has become a tool for alleviating Japan's labor shortage.

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