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RP nurses can now apply for Japan jobs

MANILA, Philippines—Japan can now start recruiting Filipino nurses and caregivers for training and employment under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement after Monday afternoon's signing of a memorandum of understanding providing for that.

A month after the Framework for the Movement of Natural Persons under JPEPA came into force, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services (JICWELS) agreed to recruit Filipino nurses as candidate-kangoshi and caregivers as candidate-kaigofukushishi to Japan. The framework came into force on December 11, 2008.

POEA Administrator Jennifer Jardin-Manalili signed for the Philippines, while JICWELS managing director Takashi Tsunoda signed for Japan.

Under the MoU, Filipino registered nurses with at least three years experience are qualified to apply for training and employment in Japan, while candidate caregivers should be a graduate of a four-year course and certified by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). Graduates of a nursing course may also apply as caregiver.

It also specified that applicants shall undergo an aptitude test and interview by JICWELS to facilitate their matching with employers. After selection, they must pass the required medical examination to conclude the employment contract and to successfully qualify to enter Japan.

"Nominal expenses of application shall be borne by applicants for document submission/authentication, medical examination (P1,500 basic), and visa fee (P1,150). Airfare and onsite training costs are shouldered by the employers or the Government of Japan," a briefer on the MoU said.

Qualified nurses and candidates are invited to apply with the POEA and to register online.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, who witnessed the signing, said the MoU details the roles and responsibilities of the two parties and the working conditions for the Filipino nurses and caregivers that would ensure their welfare and protection while training and working in Japan.

He said the hiring program will start with the initial recruitment of 200 Filipino nurses and 300 caregivers that the POEA would endorse to JICWELS, which would in turn match to hospitals and institutions in Japan that it earlier pre-qualified to receive the Filipino candidates.

"The Filipino nurses and caregivers shall be covered by a fully transparent employment contract…They shall receive the same salaries equivalent to what Japanese nurses and caregivers receive, based on similar tasks and qualifications," he said.

POEA's Manalili, on the other hand, said that prior to their actual work in Japan, the selected candidates shall undergo a six-month language and culture training, where they would receive an allowance of not less than 40,000 yen (or about P21,000) a month.

"The language training shall help them prepare to eventually take the Japanese licensure examination. The examinations can be taken not more than three chances within three years in the case of candidate-nurses, and once on the fourth year of stay in the case of candidate-caregivers," Manalili said.

She added that before obtaining their qualification as full-fledged nurse in Japan, candidate-nurses shall work under the supervision of a Japanese Kangoshi to fully familiarize them with the Japanese system.

After passing the licensure or certification examinations, the fully qualified nurse and certified caregiver shall have the option to stay for an unlimited period in Japan to practice their profession based on new and upgraded employment contract with their employer.

The controversial JPEPA came into force last December after much debate on its constitutionality and provisions allowing the importation of trash. Aside from trade and investments, the treaty also had provisions for the hiring of Filipino nurses and caregivers to the traditionally closed society that is Japan.

JPEPA, together with the other treaties that Japan signed with other ASEAN member-countries, is evidence that the ageing country is now opening itself to foreign workers.-

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