On Thursday, January 28th, the 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI*) hosted Professor Hilary Holbrow (Indiana University) for a (virtual) public talk and discussion about the history and social effects of Japan’s “trainee” visa program.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Holbrow presented her research on Japan’s guest worker system, with a particular focus on its Technical Intern Training Program (TITP)—a program used by Japanese companies to address labor shortages in industries such as food processing, garment manufacturing, agriculture, and construction. Noting arguments in favor and against the status quo, Dr. Holbrow highlighted several issues raised by critics of the program, including interns’ limited access to welfare benefits, prohibitions on changing jobs, and instances of abuse. Based on her research, she argued that TITP may be exacerbating the very long-term structural inequities between foreign residents and native Japanese that proponents of the program believe it helps to prevent.
After concluding her remarks, Dr. Holbrow engaged in a brief discussion with 21JPSI Director Adam Liff, followed by a Q&A with the audience of over 67 faculty, students, and community members from Indiana and beyond.
21JPSI programming note: Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, all events will be held exclusively online for the foreseeable future. To learn more, please check out our calendar of upcoming public webinars and sign up for our event announcement mailing list!
*The 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI) was launched at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies in 2018. Under the leadership of Founding Director and HLS faculty member Adam Liff, 21JPSI aims to invigorate and expand research, teaching, and programming on contemporary Japanese politics, society, and international (esp. U.S.-Japan) relations, and to educate, raise awareness, and debate policy responses to the various political, social, and foreign policy challenges that Japan faces in this extremely dynamic era of 21st-century change. Supported by a generous $900,000 grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, in its first five years 21JPSI has enabled a new tenure-track faculty search; new courses on contemporary Japan; a speaker series on Japanese Politics and Society; biennial conferences and webinars on U.S.-Japan relations; graduate research fellowships, and faculty travel grants. For more information, please see https://jpsi.indiana.edu/ or write to firstname.lastname@example.org