Working conditions of foreign nurses in Japan 'exploitative': study

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 11 2008 07:41 PM | Updated as of Sep 12 2008 07:29 AM

Foreign nurses and caregivers who want to work in Japan may find working conditions there exploitative or even discriminatory, according to a study. 

Based on research by Prof. David Adam Scott of the University of Kitakyushu in Japan, employment programs of foreign nurses and caregivers have resulted in trainees being forced to work long hours.

Reports said that the Japanese government has also refused to guarantee minimum wage levels, while exorbitant fees of at least 58,000 yen (P23,200) are deducted from nurses’ salaries every month.

Some foreign workers on training programs have been subjected to exploitation.

The study cited Indonesian trainees who reportedly suffered physical abuse and were forced to work overtime without pay. Some trainees were also denied basic rights as freedom of movement.

Furthermore, foreign workers employed in bigger cities in Japan are reportedly subjected to racial profiling. They are asked to produce their foreign registration cards or passports, which must be carried at all times.

The Philippine government has used the annual entry of  400 Filipino nurses and 600 caregivers under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) as one of main reasons why the Senate should ratify the free trade accord.

During the training period, Filipino nurses and caregivers will not be treated as equal to their Japanese counterparts. 

They will be required to work as trainees in designated institutions and given six months to learn the Japanese language. They will then be asked to take national certification tests before they can qualify as nurse or caregiver.

In terms of salary, Filipino nurses and caregivers will only receive pay as non-licensed worker or trainee or candidate or a as nurse’s aides and caregiver’s assistants.

The Philippine research group IBON said senators debating on the JPEPA “should see that the inclusion of nurses in the JPEPA is a deceptive provision that offers uncertain benefits made only to sweeten the blatantly one-sided, pro-Japan deal.”

“Using Filipino nurses as a justification for approving JPEPA highlights how the Philippine government is willing to sacrifice the welfare of its citizens as well as to cover up for its severe failure in generating jobs and supporting the country’s health system,” IBON said.

The JPEPA is still pending ratification at the Philippine Senate. Majority of the members of the Senate foreign relations committee have endorsed the treaty subject to certain conditions.