Japan may ease hiring rules for PH caregivers

By Estrella Torres/inquirer.net – The Japanese government is looking into the possibility of relaxing its restrictive hiring rules for Filipino health care workers who would attend to its greying population.

Masato Ohtaka, deputy press secretary of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, confirmed that since his government opened the hiring of Filipino nurses and caregivers, the required number of health care workers had not been achieved.

The hiring of Filipino workers, mainly nurses and caregivers is provided for under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) signed by both countries in 2006 in Finland. The agreement, a first for the Philippines, was ratified by the Senate years after.

“They are looking into that (relaxing hiring rules) … it depends on how much interest there is from the Filipino people and it depends on how successful our scheme is,” Ohtaka said in a recent briefing with reporters in a Manila hotel.

6-month training

Japan requires Filipino applicants to undergo a six-month Preparatory Japanese Language Training (PJLT) and pass a Nihongo test to qualify for jobs.

“Our current scheme is not easy, but we really do need some care workers from the Philippines and other countries,” Ohtaka said, adding: “ I will not be surprised if there will be tweaks here and there to allow [foreign] workers [to qualify].”

Japan allows the entry of 500-600 Filipino nurses and caregivers every year but less than 10 percent of that number pass the requirements.

The Department of Labor and Employment said there were 1,265 health workers hired since the accord was signed.
The strong pressure from Japanese professionals who prevent the hiring of foreign workers will have to be considered, Ohtaka said.
“People tend to be a bit careful about this in Japan,” he said.

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