Photo/IllutrationThe Asahi Shimbun

A Yokohama physician has released videos warning foreigners about the potential risks to their health, finances and even lives under Japan’s Technical Intern Training Program.

Junpei Yamamura, 62, visited Vietnam in May and June to produce his latest video, which was uploaded to the YouTube website in October. In April, he released a Myanmar edition to provide lessons to intern trainees before they come to Japan.

The Technical Intern Training Program for non-Japanese, which the government defines as one of its growth strategies, has been criticized as a means to provide Japanese companies with a source of cheap labor.

Yamamura’s latest video is slightly more than 10 minutes long and is titled, “Damasareruna! Gino Jisshusei (Vietnam Hen)” (Don’t be duped! Technical intern trainees (Vietnam edition)). He interviewed four Vietnamese men and women who said they were abused under the program in Japan.

“I was training on a farm, where the president’s son shouted at me in Japanese,” a Vietnamese woman in her 20s, who came to Japan as a trainee in 2014, says in the video. “I did not understand what he was saying. He showed me a knife and threatened to kill me.”

She also says in Vietnamese that she was forced to pay more than 800,000 yen ($7,100) in security money and other costs while she was in Vietnam.

In another interview, a man in his 20s says he lost the sight of one eye from a nail while operating a machine as a trainee at a construction site. He says he was forcibly repatriated and received a lump sum in disablement benefits. But he has received little in the way of compensation for lost income.

Another woman in her 20s says she was forced to return to Vietnam after she asked to be reassigned to a different workplace.

Figures of the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization, which supervises companies and other entities that host trainees, show there were a record 1,501 work-related accidents involving intern trainees in fiscal 2015.

Twenty-eight trainees died in fiscal 2016 from accidents at work, brain and heart diseases, suicides and other causes.

Labor ministry figures show that violations of labor standards, including nonpayment of wages, were found at a record 4004 workplaces in 2016.

Yamamura said he took an interest in immigration policy after he examined non-Japanese patients at a hospital. He then volunteered his time to provide health counseling to foreigners outside his hospital.

Working with support groups for intern trainees, Yamamura has interviewed about 20 of them over the past two years. He continues providing medical counseling at a farm and a church when he is not at work.

The government revised the program in November to provide better protection to intern trainees. It also extended the training period from three to five years for host companies that have earned high grades under the program, and increased the number of training fields to 77.

A new Organization for Technical Intern Training has been set up to strengthen oversight of the companies and supervising organizations under the program, but Yamamura said the problems will not end.

“Nothing has changed in the way the intern trainees are being regarded as temporary work force,” he said. “I want Japanese people to know what kind of environment the trainees find themselves in.”