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Technical Intern Training Program Results Report

Case 1: Bringing Out the Best in People Who Bring the Organization Forward (The Gunma Auto Parts Manufacturers Cooperative, Kiryu, Gunma)

A two-and-a-half-hour train ride from Tokyo gets you to a city known for "fierce mothers and dry blasting winters". As the first winter gales hit the central urban area, I, as a JITCO staff, took the train to Kiryu City, Gunma, located on the outskirts of the autumn-colored Mt. Akagi. Here, the head office of the Gunma Auto Parts Manufacturers Cooperative (GAPMC) is located.

Cooperative President Kenichi Mita

Cooperative President Kenichi Mita

GAPMC was founded in 2005 as a primary accepting organization for companies of the Mitsuba Group, which manufactures innovative and competitive world-leading products with progressive technology and skills in a timely manner. GAPMC currently accepts 84 trainees and 46 technical interns, learning at seven companies in four job categories.

Mr. Kenichi Mita, the President of GAPMC as well as the Executive Officer of Mitsuba Co., the core member of Mitsuba Group, explains with enthusiasm: "The training program should be something special and worthwhile, such that trainees and interns can proudly report to their families after their three years in Japan."

GAPMC Building

GAPMC Building

Upon assuming the role as the President in July 2008, Mr. Mita spoke to the leaders of the affiliate companies: "Over several thousand years, Japan has benefited from neighboring countries to have the success and advancement we're enjoying now. As they say, history repeats itself…I hope that we can make a modest contribution to friendly relations between Japan and the sending countries, and the involved countries grow together through the training program. The length of three years may be short in one's life, but it has impact on trainees and interns who are receptive and impressionable. It is our job to ensure the good training environment and communication, which helps personality building."

Administrative Office Staff (from left to right) Mr. Nishiba, Ms. Ryu, Mr. Soda, and Ms. Yashima

Administrative Office Staff
(from left to right)
Mr. Nishiba, Ms. Ryu,
Mr. Soda, and Ms. Yashima

Mr. Takeo Nishiba, the Deputy Director who manages the administrative office, thinks that it is crucial to provide instruction, mainly on language and social code, at an early stage for Chinese and Vietnamese trainees to blend into accepting companies smoothly. Mr. Nishiba explains that GAPMC attends trainee selection together with accepting companies to help them choose the right candidates. Once trainees arrive in Japan, GAPMC functions as a bridge between trainees and companies.

Accepting companies appreciates the trainees from GAPMC being "more serious than Japanese employees". Young trainees are like a breath of fresh air, brightening up the workplace. More employees started participating in company recreation, too, as a rippling effect.

Learning How to Separate Waste

Learning How to
Separate Waste

Ms. Sachiko Yashima, an instructor, attributes the successful proceedings of initial group training to Mitsuba Group's adaptation to the community, which helps to get assistance from the local government. When I visited the cooperative, the Vietnamese trainees were in the middle of a lecture with much humor on trash separation and disposal, by local Midori City personnel. All participants were taking notes and listening carefully.

The local fire department provides instruction to trainees for whom basic fire-safety and fire-fighting knowledge are essential whilst living in the dormitories on their own. For trainees, this is the first such experience: trying on heavy firefighters' suits; riding on fire trucks and ambulances; and, participating in fire-fighting activities using water extinguishers.

Nguyen Thi Hong Gam pleased in a Firefighter’s Suit

Nguyen Thi Hong Gam
pleased in a Firefighter's Suit

The administrative office staffs of GAPMC offer unique cultural activities for trainees hoping that they experience and understand Japan as much as possible during their stay in Japan. One of such activities is the tea ceremony. Mr. Hiroshi Soda, a training instructor who is also a certified tea-ceremony master, introduces trainees to the Japanese tradition. Mr. Soda teaches trainees a term "ichigo-ichie", meaning to cherish an encounter with someone as if it is the last chance to see the person, and tells trainees to appreciate every encounter with people, and to make the best experience out of their short three years.

GAPMC organizes various events with accepting companies in order for trainees to mingle with local residents and learn more about Japanese people and culture. Ms. Yashima, who mainly instructs Vietnamese trainees, explains with excitement: "Last year, the female trainees from Vietnam set up a stall and sold noodle soup called 'pho', which was very popular. This year, we are going to add spring rolls on the menu and start a 'Vietnam Fever'!"

Pho Was a Big Hit!

Pho Was a Big Hit!

Mr. Nishiba points out the importance of accepting organization's instruction to its affiliate companies, having seen media coverage on recent unethical cases related to the training program. "GAPMC conducts inspection of all the accepting companies four times a year as well as routine visits to the companies with an interpreter every week. During the visits, interviews are held with all 84 trainees using hearing sheets filled out by trainees. The results from these activities are reported four times a year at board meetings that include all accepting company presidents and the cooperative board members. The cooperative and accepting companies all participate in discussing the causes of the problems and their solutions, and share information. Our dream is to see trainees actively contribute to their countries' development after going through training in the Group. The training program promotes efforts to 'bring out the best in people who bring organization forward", as the motto goes, Mr. Nishiba speaks with pride.

The Gunma Auto Parts Manufacturers Cooperative functions seamlessly as a lubricant between trainees and accepting companies. GAPMC exemplifies how cooperatives' strong leadership is essential to the training program.


Human Resources Development Is Our Main Philosophy
Toyo Electric Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Midori, Gunma


Toyo Electric Manufacturing Co., Ltd. was founded in 1970 as an affiliate company of Mitsuba Co., Ltd., a major manufacturer of auto electric components. The company manufactures parts of auto windshield, aiming to provide safety and comfort to people around the world.

President Ichiji Negishi
Toyo Electric Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

President Ichiji Negishi

Toyo Electric Manufacturing Co., Ltd.


President Ichiji Negishi shared his company's effort in implementing the training program. Mr. Negishi applied to accept trainees immediately after Mitsuba Group decided to introduce the training program in October 2006. He heard about the skills and work ethics of trainees from the general manager at the Mitsuba Oniishi Factory, which had already been accepting trainees and interns. Six trainees and 10 interns are currently in the program including the newly entered group on the third dispatch.

With Trainees, ‘Great Treat!’

With Trainees, 'Great Treat!'

Mr. Negishi, who has an extensive resume of overseas assignments, knows that it is important for new trainees to become acquainted to the Japanese lifestyle as soon as possible. The President tries to make conversations with trainees, and employees also see them doing radio gymnastic exercises together every morning. During my visit, Mr. Negishi participated in the tea ceremony along with nervous trainees, taking the role of the main guest to provide them warm support.

Mr. Negishi explains: "Our company has several affiliate companies in Viet Nam, so it was a natural choice for us to accept trainees from there. Vietnamese trainees are earnest, and their attendance is great. They are also great team players and dexterous artisans, such great assets to our company!"

Nguyen Hoang Bich Tram Receives Instruction from Mr. Matsui

Nguyen Hoang Bich Tram Receives Instruction from Mr. Matsui

Manufacturing Manager Eizo Matsui, who also works as a mentor, finds it important that the company facilitates smooth communication between trainees and Japanese employees. On-the-job training is a perfect place to put these efforts into action. Taking into account trainees' limited language skills, instruction manuals are made in Vietnamese for each process making it easier for trainees to learn specialized skills and techniques.

Instruction Manuals in Vietnamese

Instruction Manuals in Vietnamese

Mr. Matsui, a father of three girls, says, "I pay attention to the well-being of the trainees who live away from home. I keep track of the trainees' growth in detail. I have all the information in my head about the 16 trainees who are here now. Although I try to take great care of them, some girls end up putting on weight due to the difference in diet, and their traditional clothing ao dai, which they brought from Viet Nam, don't fit any more." He smiles.

Dang Hoang Vy, who came to Japan three years ago, is now accustomed to her job and lifestyle, engaging cheerfully in a wiper linkage assembly line. "Once I return home, I want to study Japanese much more and work in a company where I can utilize my language skills."

Dang Hoang Vy Assembles Wiper Linkages

Dang Hoang Vy Assembles Wiper Linkages

Trainees show great commitment to their future success in their home country, hoping to utilize their training experiences gained in the company's front line.


The Best Technology to Study
Mitsuba Co., Ltd. Toyooka Factory


Mitsuba Co., Ltd. Toyooka Factory is one of the eight factories run by Mitsuba Co., Ltd. throughout Japan. Founded in Toyooka, Gunma, in 1964, the Toyooka Factory manufactures high-quality products, such as power seat motors and front wiper units.

Factory Manager Kunihiko Arai
Mitsuba Toyooka Factory

Factory Manager Kunihiko Arai

Mitsuba Toyooka Factory


Factory Manager Kunihiko Arai happily explained about the factory's involvement in the training and internship program.

Mitsuba Toyooka Factory has accepted trainees on the four separate dispatches. Following the policy set by the Mitsuba Group two years ago, the factory now accepts trainees through the Gunma Auto Parts Cooperative. At present, 27 trainees and 12 interns, are engaging in the training and internship program.

The company encourages trainees to learn from the Group's most advanced skills and technologies, taking advantage of its global operation.

Lu Xing Yu Inspects a Finished Product

Lu Xing Yu Inspects a Finished Product

From the business point of view, getting trainees up to speed at the earliest is crucial, so that the company promotes a method called ILU, which classifies degree of proficiency into three categories: I for first phase; L for the second phase; and, U for the master level. Because each work line has a different level of difficulty, trainees are assigned accordingly to their skills to make sure they have access to enough instruction from instructors in each line. This system enables trainees to ask questions immediately.

List of Certifications Owned by Factory Employees

List of Certifications Owned by Factory Employees

Mr. Arai believes that trainee selection is the key to effective training and internships. He makes sure that factory representatives participate in the selection process in China to screen candidates for solid basic skills. The company's strength is the training environment where Japanese employees who possess advanced skills are available to provide hands-on instruction.

Yu Jin Receives Instruction from Certified Technician Suzuki

Yu Jin Receives Instruction
from Certified Technician Suzuki

Mitsuba Toyooka Factory encourages Japanese employees to get certified in skills necessary for tasks required at work. There is a training hall called 'dojo', where new Japanese employees and part-time staff members can learn specialized skills required for their assigned tasks from Grade-1 certified instructors. Many trainees study in the 'dojo' before the National Trade Skills Tests or when they switch work lines. Trainees acquire necessary techniques by learning the 'feel' and 'technique' from the instructors directly.

Yu Jin, who came to Japan to get trained in rotary electric machine assembling, comes regularly to the 'dojo'. She rushes into the 'dojo' whenever she has questions, such as techniques required in intricate soldering jobs. "I really appreciate the thorough explanation I receive for my questions," says pleased Yu.

Instructor Suzuki explains: "All trainees are hungry to learn every time they come here. I make sure that I show the actual apparatus to trainees when I am explaining, because some of them might not yet understand the special terminology necessary for the Skills Test. The finishing of wiring is what would be checked in the practical portion of the Skills Test, so I teach them how to measure the proper lengths to meet requirement. Each trainee goes through a trial-and-error process while I give feedback on what needs to be changed or improved. I also make sure I teach trainees safety precautions on using blades before they start trimming the coated layer that covers electrical wire, which is also required for the Test. Trainees now comes to me amicably when they find me in the factory or at the supermarket." Mr. Suzuki's words prove that international exchange has surely been taking place through skills training.