Japan to welcome more than 500,000 foreign workers until 2025

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte meet in Manila in November. (Malacanang photo)

Japan has decided to open its doors to more than 500,000 foreign workers in the next six years to augment its shrinking and ageing working population.

The Kyodo News Agency reported that Tokyo decided on May 29 to allow foreign workers to stay in Japan for five years to address the labor shortage in five industries—agriculture, nursing, shipbuilding, construction, and lodging.

The workers will have to undergo an exam starting next April to prove their proficiency in the Japanese language and their field of specialization.

Those who are part of Japan’s foreign trainee program will be exempt from the test and can stay in the country for up to 10 years.

Companies who will hire foreign workers will be required to submit a plan showing what they intend to do to help workers find housing and improve their proficiency in Japanese.

According to the Kyodo report, there were 1.28 million foreigners working in Japan as of last year. Nearly one third of this number, at 29 percent, came from China while 19 percent were composed of Vietnamese.

Filipinos came third at 12 percent while Brazilians composed nine percent and Nepalese accounted for five percent, the report added.

On the other hand, the Jakarta Post reported that the Japanese government plans to allow foreign workers with a “high level of specialized skills” to stay for as long as they wish and to bring their family members with them.

It added that a government survey showed that Japan’s nursing care sector alone would have a shortage of 380,000 workers by 2025.

In June 2016, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) started processing applications for domestic workers who wanted to work in Japan.

Applicants were required to have one-year experience in housekeeping and a Level 2 Certification from a TESDA-accredited training center. They were also required to be fluent in Nihonggo.

While applicants were exempted from placement fees, language training fees, and transportation fares, they shouldered the cost of the passports, clearances, preliminary medical examination, and PhilHealth and Pag-ibig membership fees.

The foreign housekeepers in Japan pay for their own quarters and shoulder their own food expenses. They work 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day, with two days off per week.

The housekeepers were deployed initially in the Kanagawa Prefecture, where the gross pay was around P58,600. The net pay, after food expenses and house rental, would be around P25,700.

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