Photo/IllutrationTechnical intern trainees from Indonesia and Vietnam study Japanese language in Takamatsu. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Japanese language tests will be held in eight countries, mainly in Southeast Asia, as part of screening for applicants seeking new visa status for foreign workers.

Preparations are now in full swing following revisions to the immigration control law that passed the Diet on Dec. 8.

They include setting up a system of information exchange at intergovernmental level to prevent malicious brokers from getting involved in the business of sending workers to Japan, sources said.

Applicants for the new visa status of “specified skills” that was incorporated into the revised law are required to be able to understand and use Japanese in daily life.

According to the sources, the government has agreed with seven countries to implement the tests. They are: Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar. It is also negotiating with one other country.

The countries contacted have already sent technical intern trainees to Japan. For this reason, they are also expected to send workers to Japan under the new visa status of specified skills.

Shady brokers are said to be involved in sending trainees to Japan under the technical intern training program.

To prevent that from happening in cases involving foreign workers with specified skills, the authorities are aiming to set up an information-sharing system with those countries.

The government plans to conclude intergovernmental documents for information-sharing with the eight countries by spring. Those documents will not require ratification in the Diet.

Technical intern trainees receive their salaries in cash in many cases, which has led to complaints of companies taking kickbacks.

To skirt that issue, the government plans to make it easy for foreign nationals to open accounts at financial institutions. For that purpose, the government’s Financial Services Agency will work out guidelines for financial institutions.

The government also plans to help local authorities establish consultation services for foreign workers needing assistance in their daily lives. For the support program, the government will earmark 1 billion yen ($8.8 million) in its budget plan for fiscal 2019 that starts in April.

About 100 consultation centers will be set up around the country, including at prefectural and large city government offices as well as those of municipalities with sizable foreign communities.