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Japan, Philippines agree to speed up work to sign FTA

Thursday February 3, 2005

Japan, Philippines agree to speed up work to sign FTA

(Kyodo) - Japan and the Philippines agreed Thursday to speed up work to sign a bilateral free trade agreement and compared notes over Japan’s plan to tightening immigration control over Philippine nationals.

Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and visiting Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo agreed to accelerate arrangements toward an early signing of an FTA during their talks, a Japanese official said.

Japan and the Philippines agreed during a November summit to sign an FTA that will allow Philippine nurses and caregivers to work in Japan and reciprocal tariffs on most industrial products to be lifted by the middle of the next decade.

Romulo asked Machimura to make sure that Japan will accept many Philippine nurses and caregivers following up on the agreement reached by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The official also said Romulo asked Machimura to give heed to concern by the Philippines over Japan’s plan to limit the entries of non-Japanese entertainers, mostly Philippine women, from March as part of efforts to fight human trafficking.

Romulo was quoted as telling Machimura that the Philippine government is willing to cooperate with Japan in the policy but also expressed worry that Japan could close doors even to people with proper qualifications.

Tokyo’s stricter control over foreign entertainers’ visits has been a looming concern in the Philippines as about 80,000 of 130,000 foreign entertainers in Japan are believed to be Filipinos who send crucial remittances to their families in their home country.

Machimura tried to dismiss Romulo’s concern, saying the envisaged policy is simply aimed at fighting human trafficking.

 source: Kyodo