By Edgardo J. Angara
The Philippines and Japan present an illuminating study of sharp contrasts. The Philippine population’s average is 26 years old. Japan’s is double that.
What’s the projection for the next two decades? Japan will be getting greyer and its population declining from 110 million to 70 million. In contrast, the Philippine population during the same period will balloon to 130 million while still enjoying its demographic sweet spot.
The Philippines should send young graduates to Japan to be trained in biotechnology, information & communication technology (ICT), and new materials. Biotechnology will increase agriculture and fish production. ICT will enable young Filipinos to access the latest technology for application in the Philippines. And new materials will be introduced in the Philippines, the use of stronger, lighter, and nontoxic materials.
Will Japan welcome foreign graduate students? Yes. According to data compiled by Japan’s Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry, the number of foreign workers in Japan increased for five consecutive years from about 680,000 in 2012 to about 1.27 million in 2017. By nationality, China topped the list with 29.1 percent, followed by Vietnam at 18.8 percent, and the Philippines at 11.5 percent.
What’s the benefit to our two countries? It’s a great win-win for both. Because it simultaneously solves the issues of the labor shortage in Japan and the high unemployment rate for young people in the Philippines where the unemployment rate among the educated youth is high.
For instance, send 50 young agricultural and fisheries graduates to Japan every year for the next four years to cultivate Japan’s vast abandoned farm lands and farm fish farms. Japan in exchange will teach them biotechnology applied to crops and fish.
These returning Japan exchange students will form a critical mass for higher agriculture and aqua-culture yield in the Philippines.
Similar numbers per year for 4 years in ICT and new materials science will also be sent.
Upon returning to the Philippines, each batch will all be deployed to Mindanao. In 5 years’ time, we will have 800 high-tech cutting-edge experts.
Then Mindanao will truly be transformed from a raw material supplier to finished product producer, raising Mindanaoans’ living standards higher.
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