The Legal Development of the Technical Intern Training Program. How was the present form of Japan's TITP created?

Term Paper (Advanced seminar) 2018 18 Pages

Asian studies


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. The Advocacy Coalition Framework
2.1 Policy Subsystem and External Factors
2.2 The Model of the Individual and Belief Systems
2.3 Advocacy Coalitions
2.4 Pathways to Belief and Policy Change

3. Historical Evolution of the Technical Intern Training Program
3.1 Antecedents of the Technical Intern Training Program
3.2 The revision of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act in 1989
3.3 Introduction of the Industrial Training and Technical Internship Program in 1993
3.4 The Reform of Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act in 2009

4. Applying the Advocacy Coalition Framework to the evolution of the Japanese Technical Intern Training Program

5. Conclusion

6. List of references

1. Introduction

Alongside shrinking population and workforce numbers and an ageing society, Japan experiences major transformation processes. Having only about 1.8 percent of foreign residents yet (Green 2017), the number of participants in the Technical Intern Training Program (gaikokujin ginö jisshu seido, hereinafter “TITP”) is steadily on the rise. This term paper “How was the present form of Japan's Technical Intern Training Program created?” relates to the legal development of the TITP and its forerunner programs from roughly 1989 to 2009. In order to seek answers for the research question mentioned above, the applicability of the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) will be tested.

The second chapter “The Advocacy Coalition Framework” deals with the policy process theory called ACF, which was developed in the late 1980s. In this context, key terms especially relevant to the case of the Japanese immigration system like policy subsystems, external factors and belief systems etc. are shortly introduced without any claim of being complete.

Chapter three “Historical Evolution of the Technical Intern Program” reconstructs the position of major involved stakeholder and examines legal changes to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (Shutsunyukoku kanri oyobi nanmin nintei hö, hereinafter “Immigration Act”) in four separated periods from the description of distant TITP predecessors prior to 1989 to the last reform of the Immigration Act in 2009.

In chapter four “Applying the Advocacy Coalition Framework to the evolution of the Japanese Technical Intern Training Program” both prior chapter issues are brought together for an in­depth analysis of the Japanese immigration subsystem using the ACF.

Regarding the scope of this term paper it should be noted, that it is limited to low-skilled work migration only. Highly-skilled or undocumented immigration as well as immigration through Economic Partnership Programs are not subject of this term paper. Furthermore it should be stated, that this term paper is macro-level and does not specifically examines human rights violations or the treatment of trainees or interns during their participation in concerning programs like many western publications, e.g. A. W. Shipper do (Shipper 2011). Regarding the current state of research, it can be stated, that the TITP is a well-known subject of academic research. A broad range of academics issued papers about the TITP in recent years. An especially high number of German-speaking authors like Daniel Kremers, David Chiavacchi or Gabriele Vogt contributed to the examination of this critical issue.

2. The Advocacy Coalition Framework

The ACF is a theory developed by Paul A. Sabatier and Hank Jenkins-Smith (1988, 1993) focusing on the interactions of advocacy coalitions within a policy subsystem. Within this framework political active institutions share a common set of political belief, thus forming a coalition. This policy process theory deals mostly with mapping the belief systems of different advocacy coalitions, but also is used as a tool analyzing policy change and policy-oriented learning across coalitions over a decade or more (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 10). There are at least three cornerstones of the ACF: 1. the macro-level assumption that most policymaking appears between specialists within a political subsystem. However, their behavior is influenced by external factors, e. g. changes in the broader socioeconomic system 2. a micro-level “model of the individual” that is built upon social psychology 3. The meso-level conviction that advocacy coalitions are the key political actors dealing best with the variety of players within the subsystem (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 191-192). The theory primary originates from the analysis of U.S. energy and environmental policies (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 189), but has experienced widespread use in recent year amongst others in the field of education, transportation (Jenkins-Smith & Sabatier 1994, pp. 175) and migration studies (Koike 1996). In order to understand the theoretical framework, this chapter briefly introduces its key terms also by acknowledging the recent revisions conducted by Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith.

2.1 Policy Subsystem and External Factors

The majority of policymaking takes place within a policy subsystem and involves negotiations between specialists (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 193). According to Jenkins-Smith is the “focus on policy subsystems, i.e. the interaction of actors from different institutions who follow, and seek to influence, governmental decisions in a policy area” (Jenkins-Smith & Sabatier 1994, pp. 178) the most useful way to think about policy change. The policy subsystem is the major entity of the ACF. A subsystem is divided into two dimensions, a functional (e.g., energy policy) and a territorial one (e.g., France). Furthermore Sabatier distinguishes between mature and nascent policy subsystems. A mature policy subsystem is characterized by a set of participants (e.g., agencies, interest groups, and research institutions etc.) who regard themselves as a semi-autonomous, issue-specific community and who have sought to influence public policy in their field of interest for an extended period. In 2009 Jones and Jenkins-Smith introduced their concept of a “policy topography” claiming that subsystems are not solely being for themselves but interconnectively responding to changes in the public opinion, which leads to the forming of trans-subsystem dynamics (Jones & Jenkins-Smith 2009, pp. 37). The ACF assumes that the beliefs of those participating in a policy subsystem, especially those of a mature one, are very consistent and stable, thus making policy change fairly difficult (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 192). However, in order to explain policy change, the authors introduce stable exogenous factors (e.g., basic distribution of resources, fundamental sociocultural values and basic constitutional structure) and dynamic exogenous factors (e.g., socioeconomic conditions, changes in the governing coalition and policy decisions from interconnected subsystems). The ACF presumes that change in at least one category of exogenous factor has to entry into force for major policy change within the subsystem.

2.2 Devil shift and Belief Systems

The ACF differs from classical rational choice frameworks assuming that actors are pursuing personal interest in gaining material benefits. The theoretical framework by Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith rather hypothesizes that normative motives are the main driver of political participation and there is indeed a possibility for altruistic behavior. Another key term is “the devil shift” (a concept borrowed by prospect theory), which is equivalent to a David-versus- Goliath scenario, meaning that actors tend to view their opponents as less reliable, more evil and more powerful than themselves. This leads to a strong incentive for intensified interaction and cooperation within a coalition, but in return increases the level of alienation between competing coalitions, thus lowering the possibility for a compromise, any kind of agreement. The ACF consists of a three-tiered hierarchical structure, differentiating between three levels of beliefs:

1. At the broadest level are deep core beliefs including general world view, sociocultural values, the proper role of the government vs. market in general etc. Deep core beliefs are resulting from childhood socialization and very difficult to change (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 194).
2. Policy core beliefs are the application of deep core beliefs to the specific policy subsystem. There hardly is one-to-one correspondence between deep core beliefs and policy core beliefs, but, as deep core beliefs too, they are difficult to change (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 194-95).
3. Secondary beliefs are the narrowest level of the ACF belief system. Secondary beliefs may be represented by certain rules within a specific program etc. Because the scope of secondary beliefs is less than subsystem-wide it requires fewer agreement efforts among the actors, which leads to change taking place easier (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 196).

2.3 Advocacy Coalitions

The ACF predicts that stakeholders’ beliefs and behavior is based on informal networks partly structured through policy subsystems. Actors are holding strong beliefs and are motivated to translate them into politics. The “devil shift” further increases level of cooperation, which also further increases the risk of free-rider problem of collective action (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 196). How is the ACF steeling itself against actors taking advantage of collective resources without contributing to them? Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith see three rationales relating this: 1. The transaction costs are relatively low and trust and willingness of actors to contribute fairly are strong 2. The perceived advantages resulting from a coalition are exaggerated, which is a product of the partly irrational “devil shift” 3. There is strong (e.g., developing a joint plan and implementing that plan) and weak cooperation (e.g., monitoring ally activities and responding with complementary strategies). The later one has lower costs, thus reducing the risk of free­riding.

Since the foundation of the ACF, academics discuss the relative influence of material self­interests compared with policy core beliefs (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 197). Which motive can explain policy process better? It’s the classic conflict between sociologists and economists (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 194). Jenkins-Smith and St. Clair, conducting research on the field of offshore petroleum leasing modeled two groups: 1. material groups (organizations motivated for economic self-interest) and 2. purposive groups (organizations motivated by an ideological position). One of their results is the assumption that self-interest is more important for the former, the material group (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 197).

2.4 Pathways to Belief and Policy Change

The ACF claims four pathways to belief and policy change: The 1999 version of the ACF identified two ways: Policy-oriented learning and external perturbations or shocks. With the 2014 edition of “Theories of the policy process” Paul A. Sabatier and Christopher M. Weible added two new ways to policy change: Internal shocks and negotiated agreements. This way the authors revised their stance, that major policy change is only possible through exogenous factors. The theoretical lack of policy change mechanisms within subsystems has been subjected of widespread criticism from academic circles before.

Policy-oriented learning may appear over the course of a decade or more on based on experience and new information related the specific policy subsystem. Here, academia and civil society play a major role giving an impetus by evaluating the results of certain laws, regulations or guidelines. Whereas secondary beliefs are receptive to be changed by policy-oriented learning, deep core beliefs and policy core beliefs are unlikely to change through policy- oriented learning (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 198).

External perturbations or shocks can have significant effects on the policy core beliefs, thus may open up major policy and belief change. Those shocks can be represented by any kind of disaster, changes in socioeconomic conditions (economic crisis etc.) or even regime change. As a consequence, the focus of public attention and decisionmakers may change, institutions may be merged, closed or opened up and distribution of resources within a policy subsystem can change drastically. The effect of exogenous factors is one of the key elements of the ACF (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 198-99).

Internal shocks are delivered by disasters from within policy subsystems (Sabatier & Weible 2014). For the minority advocacy coalition members, internal shocks confirm their policy core beliefs (e.g., regarding an urgent need for reform in a specific policy field). This may add new members to the minority coalition. For the dominant advocacy coalition, internal shocks increase doubt about their policy core beliefs.

The concept of negotiated agreements heavenly borrows from the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 205). Both hold a rather negative stance on the chances of a negotiated agreement. In order to achieve an agreement, there should be nine preconditions supporting the accomplishment: 1. a disadvantageous stalemate for both sides providing a strong incentive to negotiate 2. a representative composition leaving no institution etc. left behind 3. a skillful mediator respected as a neutral, who keeps meeting running 4. access to resources of different agencies, institutions etc. 5. the will to participate in negotiations over an extended course of time (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 206) 6. the priority of empirical issues over normative issues in order to reach an agreement 7. trust building between the negotiators 8. the lack of BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). Negotiators only discuss seriously, if there is no better alternative (Sabatier & Weible 2014, pp. 207).

3. Historical Evolution of the Technical Intern Training Program

The TITP is a three-year learning and working program for foreign “trainee” workers, mainly from Asian developing countries, to acquire further skills in Japan in order to facilitate “technology transfer” (Liang 2014, pp. 246). The present form of the TITP resulted from the revision of the 1951 Immigration Act (Liu-Farrer & Yeoh 2018, pp. 106) in July 2009, which came into effect in July 2010. The TITP is the successor of the Industrial Training and Technical Internship Program (Gaikokujin kenshu ginö jisshu seido; hereinafter “IT-TIP”). The IT-TIP consisted of the Industrial Training Program (ITP) (Gaikokujin kenshusei seido), which was implemented 1990 and the Technical Internship Program (TIP) (Gaikokujin ginö jisshu seido), which was introduced 1993 (Liang 2014, pp. 245-46). On the homepage of the Japan International Training Organization (JITCO)1, the responsible agency for supervision and conducting the program, the TITP is introduced as followed: “The purpose of this program is to transfer Skills to Technical Intern Trainees who will form a basis of economic development in their respective countries and play an important role in Japan's international cooperation and contribution. ” (JITCO 2018a). The number of trainees is steadily on the rise, climbing from around 70.000 (2006) to 212.000 trainees (2016) (Green 2017).

3.1 Antecedents of the Technical Intern Training Program

Although the Japanese government repeatedly stated, that there is a “cabinet consent” on the ban of foreign labor since the late 1960s, labor-related immigration has been seen in Japan early after the Second World War (Iguchi 2012, pp. 1037). To date the Japanese government claims, that there is only highly-skilled immigration on temporary basis (Vogt 2014, pp. 52). However, there was and is a whole range of programs having similar aims and characteristics long before the introduction of the TITP. Prototypes of the TITP were already existent since 1954 as part of the Official Development Assistance (ODA), the Japanese official developmental aid. The state-owned developmental aid agency Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is in charge of those programs, accepting only around 13.000 participants on a yearly basis.

Since the early 1980s, only a few years after the introduction of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (hereinafter “China”) in 1976, there were also small and medium- seized enterprises (SME) actively hiring foreign trainees in order to cover their demand of workforce. Daniel Kremers mentions a cooperative of clothing companies accepting around 50 Chinese trainees in 1981 or another cooperative of foundries sending a delegation to China in order to seek new trainees.2 Because the Immigration Act just allowed internationally active companies to accept foreign trainees, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) issued a special permit (Kremers 2011, pp. 153-55). According to Kamibayashi Chieko this was the result of negotiations of a Gifu congressman lobbying for cooperatives. He further states, that the experiences made by those cooperatives essentially contributed to the institutionalization of the program in the course of the 90s (Kamibayashi 2009, pp. 45).


1 The JITCO was set up in 1991 under the joint jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Institute for Human Rights and Business 2017, pp. 13).

2 The TITP is still popular among young Chinese. Of around 150.00 trainees residing in Japan in 2012, almost 73 percent of them are of Chinese nationality (Vogt 2015, pp. 572)


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University of Duisburg-Essen
Japan Immigration Technical Intern Training Program

Title: The Legal Development of the Technical Intern Training Program. How was the present form of Japan's TITP created?