According to the Japan’s Immigration Bureau, the trainees may have been influenced by a Nepalese job broker who had taught Nepalese how to create false refugee applications, effectively giving them the opportunity to leave training agencies and find better jobs.
Since a revision was made in 2010, Japan’s immigration system has been granting applicants for refugee status — even technical trainees who leave their jobs — permission to work elsewhere for six months.
The trainees who went missing were being supervised by Hasaki Kokusai Koryu Kyodo Kumiai, an organization based in Kamisu, Ibaraki Prefecture. The group said it accepted 35 Myanmar trainees and set them up with jobs, including work at marine product processing plants, from December 2013 to May 2014.
However, by June 2014, three of them stopped showing up for work, and thereafter virtually every month a few more would disappear, leaving just two.
The report says all 33 missing trainees have applied for refugee status, with the suggestion they were seeking better work elsewhere, including Tokyo, where wages are higher.
The supervising organisation is said to have been unable to contact the Yangon agency that sent the trainees.
A similar story has been heard in nearby Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, where 25 of the 34 trainees sent by the Yangon agency have disappeared.
An estimated 434 people from Myanmar applied for refugee status in Japan in 2014. Myanmar nationals rank fourth in applications after Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka.