Fresh batch of Filipino nurses, caregivers to leave for Japan

A fresh batch of over 100 candidate nurses and caregivers will leave the Philippines for Japan this weekend to begin free language and skills training, officials said Saturday.

A total of 46 nurses and 70 caregivers, the third group of Filipino health workers to be sent to Japan, will depart Sunday to undergo a six-month Japanese language and cultural course before beginning work in Japanese health care institutions, said Jennifer Manalili, head of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

Two other caregivers already fluent in Japanese will leave in June.

Manalili said the screening for this year’s batch of health workers under the bilateral program, now still in its second year, was “more rigorous to ensure an excellent and well prepared corps of candidates.”

Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura led a sendoff ceremony for the candidates on Friday, calling the opening up Japan to more Filipino nurses and care workers under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement that came into effect in December 2008 a “testimony to the deepening relations” between the two countries.

He said the scheme will be instrumental in changing not just the lives of Filipino health workers “but the cooperative landscape of our two nations as well.”

The envoy told the candidates they will face various challenges as they work in an entirely different environment and interact with people with a different culture and language, but should “stay focused on the objectives you have set for yourself.”

“But do not let the unfamiliar faze you. Let it be your motivation to develop your skills and further improve yourselves in your respective fields,” he said.

Katsura extended his congratulations to Ever Lalin of the first batch of Filipino health workers for having cleared the language barrier and passed the Japanese Nursing Licensure Examination a mere 10 months after she arrived in Japan last year.

“I hope (Lalin’s) achievement will inspire all of you,” he said, urging them “to dedicate yourselves to your studies and remaining steadfast to your goals.”

The latest deployment of Filipino health workers comes amid a fresh Philippine proposal to conduct the six-month language and skills- training here in the Philippines so that they could remain close to their families.

The entry of Filipino nurses and caregivers to Japan is one of the main highlights of the bilateral economic partnership agreement concluded in 2006. Japan has also been accepting health workers from Indonesia.