Tokyo–Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz capped a three-day official mission to Japan with a successful pitch for a technical cooperation proposal that will enhance the employability of Filipino nurses and caregivers aspiring to work in Japan under the Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, or JPEPA.
Speaking before the Filipino community in Tokyo after two days of meetings with Japanese officials, Baldoz said she proposed to Gov. Youji Kuroiwa of the Kanagawa Prefecture a technical cooperation agreement under which the Kanagawa government could send a mission to the Philippines to fully understand Philippine training and education standards, take a look at the curriculum of nursing and caregiving courses, and assess what other requirements of these occupations in Japan could be incorporated, upgraded, or improved so that takers of these courses could easily qualify when they apply for such occupations in Japan.
“I believe we have to align our training and education standards with countries that employ our workers to ensure their readiness to be employed, not only in Japan, but anywhere else,” said Baldoz.
“I offered the proposal to Kanagawa because the prefecture plays a leading role in the protection of EPA nurses and careworkers in Japan. I expressed my sincere thanks to Gov. Kuroiwa and the prefectural government for holding annual meeting of EPA workers and providing them various kind of support,” she added.
Baldoz traveled to Yokohama, the seat of government of Kanagawa, to meet with Gov. Kuroiwa and three of his deputies, Hitoshi Fujimaki, Director General of the Industry and Labor Bureau; Shinya Sakuma, Director General of the Public Health and Welfare Bureau; and Makoto Shimizu, Executive Director of Global Strategy and Community Affairs Bureau.
Baldoz said Gov. Kuroiwa described her proposal as a “great idea” and readily said he will soon start appropriate arrangements with the Philippine government, particularly regarding the contents of the cooperation proposal. The governor said he has already identified a university that would pilot-test activities under the proposed technical cooperation program.
Kanagawa Prefecture, Baldoz also said, is the first Japanese prefecture to hire Filipino household service workers under Japan’s Project to Accept Foreign Workers Conducting Housekeeping Services in National Strategic Special Zones.
“The HSW project of Japan is a live-out arrangement, and since this is the first of its kind for the Philippines, we have to ensure that the recruitment and deployment is transparent, fair, and ethical,”
While in Tokyo, she met with Minister Shigeru Ishiba of the Cabinet Office who is in charge of Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing the Local Economy of Japan, and Takamaro Fukuoka, State Minister of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office and Minister for Financial Services.
Secretary Baldoz expressed thanks to Minister Ishiba for Japan’s continued hosting of Filipino workers. In return, Minister Ishiba congratulated Secretary Baldoz for her recent appointment as a commissioner of the UN High Level Commission for Health Employment and Economic Growth.
“By sharing your human resources with us, we benefit both the country of Japan and the Philippines. In Japan we take very good care of your workers. If conditions in Japan are unlike those in the US or Canada, then Japan will not attract many OFWs,” Minister Ishiba said. Both officials expressed desire to already implement the HSW project.
She also held a meeting with Minister Yasushi Shiozaki of the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare who is also the State Minister in charge for the National Strategic Special Zones.
Minister Shiozaki, who also congratulated Secretary Baldoz on her appointment, informed her the Lower House of the Japanese Parliament is considering new legislation for the admission of foreign caregivers and this will most likely be approved in May.
In response, Baldoz said rich countries like Japan should consider investing in the development of human resource in healthcare considering the projection of the World Health Organization that there will be some 40 million new healthcare jobs, mostly in middle- and high income countries and a shortage of 18 million in low- and lower middle-income countries by 2030 to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She pledged to work closely with Japanese member of the UN High Level Commission for Health Employment and Economic Growth, Prof. Keizo Takemi, who happens to be a colleague and friend of Minister Shiozaki.
Baldoz said she will convene the POEA Governing Board, which she chairs, to already finalize and approve the guidelines on the HSW project for Japan.