MANILA – A total of 184 Filipino nurses and caregivers under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) are off to Japan next month.
"All of them are leaving on the 11th of June," said Yoo Fukuzawa, head of the Japanese Language Training Program of the Japan Foundation in Manila.
Some of the nurses and caregivers who completed the "Preparatory Japanese Language Training Program" under JPEPA M.A.Nishimori
On Tuesday, the 6th batch completed the "Preparatory Japanese Language Training for Nurse and Certified Care Worker Candidates" under the JPEPA.
The six-month training -- which taught participants the basic knowledge and usage of Japanese language and understanding the Japanese people, society and culture -- began last November 19, 2013.
Fukuzawa said 25 Japanese and 9 Filipino Japanese language teachers facilitated the training held at the Technical Education & Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Taguig City.
Once in Japan, the batch will undergo another 6-month Japanese language training in Yokohama for caregivers and in Osaka for nurse candidate.
The 6th batch of JPEPA nurses and caregivers will leave for Japan on June 11, 2014 M.A.Nishimori
He said another organization will take over the training in Japan. Only nurses and caregivers who pass the national licensure examination will be allowed to stay and work in Japan.
"In order to pass the national examination, they have to learn the Japanese language. It's very necessary," said Fukuzawa, adding that participants will be living in Japan for three years and would have to communicate with the Japanese people while they are there.
The 6-month Japanese language course in Manila is already on its second year. The first and second batches did not undergo Japanese language training in Manila. It was only when they arrived in Japan that they had to take the 6-month course. But the first 3-month training course in Manila began with the 3rd batch.
"From 5th batch, we have extended to six months (training course) because we think three months is not enough at all. Three months is too short,"Fukuzawa said.
Fukuzawa said the latest batch will take their Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on June 10.
Of the 184 Filipino candidates, 36 are certified nurses and 148 are certified caregivers. All in all, there are 31 males and 153 females in this batch.
A student wearing his EPA Japanese Language Training uniform
There were initially 186 participants who graduated from the course, but Fukuzawa said two of them won't be joining their batch this year.
"Unfortunately, two of them will not be able to go to Japan because of their health. They have to get medical examinations here and we were not told of the results. But we were just told this morning from POEA that 2 of them will not be issued a visa because of health problems," he said.
Akio Isomata, Minister for Economic Affairs of the Embassy of Japan, urged participants to take to heart their Japanese language training.
"You'll be dealing with people who need your help, assistance. You have to understand what they want to say. You also have to express yourself in an effective way. That is why the language is very important," Isomata said.
"I'm not saying the language is the only key to success but surely it is an important key to the success of your future in Japan," he added.
He is confident that the participants will eventually acquire adequate Japanese language ability to work and pass the licensure examination in Japan.
What makes Pinoys stand out?
Isomata also described the characteristics that make Filipinos stand out in the workplace.
"The biggest weapon that Filipino has is their world-renowned cheerfulness and tenderheartedness. And that is most needed in this kind of job, in this field of caregiving, nursing," Isomata said.
This was also supported by Fukuzawa who said that Filipinos are hospitable and talented.
"I hear a lot of stories especially for the Filipino care workers in Japan. They are welcomed by the elderly people because of they are hospitable, they can dance, sing. They know some Japanese songs," he said.
For her part, POEA Deputy Administrator Liberty Casco hoped that the training will enable the 6th batch to "hurdle the major challenges" of becoming qualified nurses and caregivers in Japan.
"We are encouraged to note that in the recent Japanese Licensure Examination, 16 nurses from the 2nd to 5th batches passed the 2014 licensure out of the 145 Filipino examinees, while 32 careworkers from the 1st and 2nd batches passed out of the 108 Filipino careworker examinees," said Casco.
Likewise, Casco was proud to announce that Stephen Labata, a JPEPA nurse from the 5th batch, passed the licensure examination on his first attempt.
"This brings a total of 41 nurses and 97 careworkers who passed the licensure examination since 2010. They make the Filipino people truly proud of their achievements," she said.
Casco said the Philippines is one with Japan in hoping to see a higher success rate for JPEPA candidates in the succeeding national licensure examinations in Japan.
"Both out governments have continuously committed to support and improve the scheme on the movement of Filipino health professionals under the JPEPA program," she said.