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Japan sets tough rules for nurses

Japan sets tough rules for nurses
By Joyce Pangco Pañares

FILIPINO nurses and caregivers may only start working in Japan in 2010 as they must first finish a three-year language course and technical training and pass Tokyo’s licensure exam for medical practitioners, an official said yesterday.

Hiroshige Seko, special adviser to visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said only 1,000 slots had been given to Filipino nurses and caregivers under the recently signed but yet to be ratified Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.

“These 1,000 Filipinos can stay in Japan for three years to finish their language requirement and technical training and pass the exam, but within those three years they cannot work,” Seko said in an interview.

The first batch of Filipino nurses and caregivers to leave for Japan under the free-trade pact were not assured of automatic employment, said Seko, also spokesman of Abe’s delegation that left Manila yesterday morning after a two-day state visit.

“If they cannot pass the language requirement and the licensure exam, then they have to go back to the Philippines so that a new applicant can get the slot and go to Japan to study,” he said.

The RP-Japan agreement, a bilateral treaty pending in the Senate for ratification, has been widely seen as a shot in the arm for the local nursing industry after Japan opened its doors to foreign caregivers, Filipinos in particular, given its aging population.

The exams that Filipino applicants must pass are the same tests given to Japanese nurses and caregivers.

Seko’s explanation departed from earlier statements by Tokyo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which said the language requirement would only take six months.

The language requirement might be highly restrictive, but it would make Filipino nurses and caregivers at par with their Japanese counterparts who received a starting salary of 193,924 yen or about P85,000 a month, Seko said.

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