Japan is facing a serious labor shortage, a problem that can be traced back to an aging population and a prevailing fear that immigrants will dilute the country’s pure gene pool. In order to keep the world’s third-largest economy afloat, the Japanese government offers an internship program that attracts foreign workers from China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The program, which allows workers to stay for three years, is advertised as providing laborers with transferrable new skills for when they return home.
VICE News recently traveled to Japan to investigate the internship program. We found that many interns are underpaid, saddled with insurmountable debt, and forced into a form of indentured servitude. Many are illegally placed as oyster shuckers, construction workers, and other unskilled positions. And, despite international condemnation, Japan plans to use thousands of new foreign interns to build the infrastructure for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
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