MANILA - A new contingent of Filipino nurses and caregivers who will train and have the opportunity to work in Japan under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement left Manila for Japan on Wednesday.
Philippine Overseas Employment Agency officials said the health workers, the sixth group since the Philippines started sending workers in 2009, include 36 nurses and 147 caregivers.
The nurses are flying into Osaka, while the caregivers are heading to Tokyo.
"When I became a licensed nurse, I really planned to work abroad. So this is a good chance for me because the salary in Japan is bigger than here and Japanese culture, compared to other countries, is very interesting. They are kinder to Filipinos," 30-year-old nurse Adrian Pascual from Laguna Province south of Manila told Kyodo News.
Caregiver John Cristopher Alidon, 24, from the central Philippine province Cebu, said he looks forward to learning more about the Japanese culture while practicing his profession in Japan.
Japanese Embassy press officer Miwa Yamatoya said the latest group of health workers brings the total number of nurses sent to Japan under the bilateral agreement to 337 and the caregivers to 667.
The candidate health workers have to undergo language training for six months on their arrival in Japan before they are assigned to training and work facilities. Depending on the assessment of their skills by their employers, the workers may then take licensure exams when or before their initial three-year visa expires.
The agency's Deputy Administrator Liberty Casco said that so far, 41 nurses and 97 caregivers have passed the Japanese examinations since Filipinos were allowed to take them starting in 2010.
"We are hopeful that the six months of rigorous training for this group of candidates will enhance their competency in Nihongo (Japanese) to enable them to hurdle the major challenges of this process to become Filipino qualified nurses and certified careworkers," Casco said during the culmination of the group's six-month pre-deployment language training on May 27.
Japan's acceptance of foreign health workers, which also include Indonesians under a separate economic agreement, is due to its thinning supply of workers amid its aging population.