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Japan agrees to non-quota deployment of nurses—RP exec

May 11, 2006

Japan agrees to non-quota deployment of nurses—RP exec

By Veronica Uy

DISCUSSIONS on the labor component of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) finally moved forward after Japan agreed to a non-quota deployment of Filipino nurses and caregivers, a labor official said.

“We have some form of common understanding that the agreement would be non-quota-based. We have accepted some restrictions,” Labor Undersecretary Danilo Cruz told reporters at the conference of labor ministries of Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Asia.

Cruz, who is labor undersecretary for employment promotion and manpower development, said the number of Filipino nurses and caregivers that may be sent to Japan would depend on Japan’s capacity to train them, and on Japan’s nursing and care-giving practices.

“We have agreed to have the training process done in Japan. We have also agreed that any deployment would comply with existing [Japanese] immigration rules,” he said.

Although he refused to indicate a date when the agreement would be ready for signing, Cruz said there “just some legal issues that need to be finalized. Some wordings.”

“It’s OK that there are no numbers because we insisted on that. [Japan’s agreement to train Filipino health workers] means that they accept the responsibility of training them,” Cruz said.

Nurses’ organizations in Japan have been lobbying against the hiring of foreign nurses despite Japan’s increasing need for them due to its ageing population.

In December 2002, Japan and the Philippines have agreed to sign a bilateral free trade agreement — the JPEPA — that will also cover the hiring of Filipino health workers in Japan.

This part of the negotiations had been snagged by Japan’s insistence to put a quota on the number of health workers to be hired. The Philippine negotiating team, led by Cruz, wanted a market-dictated number.

Negotiators have been working on an unofficial July 2006 deadline when the two countries celebrate the 50th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic ties. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has been invited to the country to attend the scheduled celebrations in the Philippines.

 source: INQ7