Informalization and Temporary Labor Migration: Rethinking Japan’s Technical Intern Training Program From a Denationalized View

Publication Name

Critical Sociology


This article asks how Japan’s Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) has promoted a transfiguration of employer into predator who utilizes fraudulent economic strategies to exploit trainees under the abusive conditions. Situating Japan’s case within the global dynamics of temporary labor migration as well as drawing on the critical discussions about the ‘informal economy’, I argue that the formation and expansion of the unequal capital–labor power relations, facilitated by the processes of informalization under the TITP in Japan and the sending countries, has constructed trainees as precarious workers and augmented the dehumanized treatment of these workers by their employers. Specifically utilizing Slavnic’s notion of the two patterns of informalization—‘informalization from above’ and ‘informalization from below’—from a de-nationalized perspective, this article illustrates how the involvement of so-called labor migration intermediaries at both departure and destination sites has affected trainees’ hierarchical and discriminatory relationships with their employers in Japan.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Link to publisher version (DOI)