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Japan to OK 1,000 Nurses From Philppines

Japan to OK 1,000 Nurses From Philppines

All Associated Press NewsTOKYO (AP) - Japan will accept up to 1,000 nurses and care workers from the Philippines following a free trade agreement signed last week, officials said Monday.

Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will allow up to 400 nurses and 600 nursing care workers from the Philippines to work in Japan for the first two years, said ministry official Tomohiro Kamiya. The program could start as early as April 2007, he said.

The decision came as Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed the agreement on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe meeting in Helsinki, Finland on Saturday.

The Philippine economy relies heavily on the money sent home by Filipinos working overseas. Manila has been trying to open more employment markets for such overseas workers.

Japanese economists have long argued that Tokyo needs to admit more foreign laborers to make up for a falling birthrate and a rapidly aging population.

Filipino nurses and care workers will be required to take six months of Japanese classes unless they demonstrate fluency, according to the ministry.

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