Japan’s tough hiring requirements peril JPEPA

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SENATE Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. yesterday warned that if the requirements imposed by Japan on Filipino health workers turn out to be difficult to comply with, then the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement sent by Malacañang may face rough sailing in the Senate.

The senator expressed apprehension that the promise of high-paying jobs for Filipino nurses and caregivers in Japanese hospitals and health institutions may turn out to be an illusion amid its stringent hiring requirements and the vigorous objection of the Japanese Nursing Association to the Filipinos’ entry.

Tokyo has allowed Japanese hospitals to recruit Filipino nurses and caregivers in exchange for the liberalized entry of Japanese goods into the Philippines, including industrial waste.

But Pimentel said the strict requirements imposed by Japan are bound to discourage Filipino health workers who have the option to apply for jobs in other countries where they have better chances of being hired.

“I understand the rationale for our nurses to undergo formal training in Nippongo, but we find the other requirements exclusivistic. Nurses will be allowed to stay in Japan up to three years, and caregivers, up to four years,” Pimentel said.

Japanese nursing professionals vowed to block the influx of Filipino nurses and caregivers for fear this may cause the downgrading of employment standards, including decrease in compensation, the senator added.

“That seems to be the core of the problem of JPEPA. We are getting less than what we bargained for. We are supposedly promised that a certain number of nurses and caregivers could go to Japan under the agreement. But now it looks like we won’t get anything but garbage,” Pimentel said.

He said it is obvious that Japanese nurses fear that the entry of their Filipino counterparts may create disadvantages, including stiffer competition for nursing positions.

Pimentel said even the Philippine Nursing Association is unhappy over Tokyo’s tight requirements for Filipino nurses which would make it difficult for them to penetrate the Japanese labor market.

In a position paper on the JPEPA, the PNA voiced out fears that Filipino nurses may face discrimination and be treated as second-class professionals and at best be given jobs as nursing assistants.

The JPEPA would supposedly allow a year-on-year quota of an unspecified number of Filipino nurses and caregivers in Japan.