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Japan cuts Filipino nurses some slack

GMA News | 02/08/2011

Japan cuts Filipino nurses some slack

After the first two batches of Filipino nurses and caregivers who have applied for jobs in Japan in the last two years registered very low passing rates, the Japanese government has decided to revise the qualifying exams and make it easier for the applicants to pass.

Since the Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) was implemented in 2009, only one Filipino nurse qualified to work in Japan after going through rigorous application and hiring procedures, an official of the Japanese embassy in Manila said Tuesday.

In the same period, 139 Filipino nurses and 299 caregiver applicants were accepted to train in Japan between 2009 and 2010, according to the Japanese official, who requested anonymity as he was not supposed to talk about the revised exams pending an official statement from his government.

Applicants are given qualification tests after six months of the language course but the Japanese official said Filipino applicants had a difficult time passing the examinations.

For the sake of Filipino applicants, the Japanese diplomat said medical terms in Japanese — like diabetes, cataract, and pulmonary tuberculosis — will be replaced with English words to make it easier during the written tests.

"We are trying to improve the implementation of movement of natural persons particularly in the (context) of licensure examination to make it more passable for foreign applicants including Filipinos," he said.

With the steady decline in Japan’s population, the Japanese government has intensified hiring foreign nurses and caregivers for its graying retirees.

Restricting Filipino entertainers

Embassy officials in Manila, however, said Japan is now restricting the entry of entertainers from the Philippines with stricter visa processing to keep Filipinos from falling prey to human trafficking operations in Japan and other developed countries.

Official Japanese data showed that entertainers deployed to Japan have been on a steady decline from 11,065 visas given in 2007 to 9,199 in 2008 and 7,465 in 2009.

The Philippines and Japan this year will review the implementation of JPEPA to facilitate trade and investments and the deployment of Filipino nurses and caregivers to Japan.

There are now 300 new nurse applicants vying for 102 slots and 250 applicants for caregivers competing for 85 new slots, according to the Japanese envoy.

These aspirants will be sent to Japan for six-month language training and to take qualifying tests for work and training in hospitals and homes for the elderly.

Those who qualify will get a $400 monthly allowance from the Japanese government, and stay in Japan for three years.

Foreign nurses and caregivers in Japan are given a monthly salary ranging from P66,000 to P130,000. — VS/TJD, GMA News