Our growing partnership with Japan

Published March 23, 2019, 12:05 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

e-cartoon-mar-23-2019There was very good  news from Japan early this week. Secretary Silvestre Bello III of the Department  of Labor and Employment  (DOLE) said  officials  of DOLE and Japan’s Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs, Health, Labor and Welfare, and  National Police will sign  on Tuesday  an agreement  providing  for  a new status and protection for “Specified Skilled Workers” in Japan.

The agreement will streamline  recruitment processes,  promote the welfare and protection of  skilled foreign workers,  grant them residence status, and establish a joint committee for the resolution of issues that  may arise  and work for the  continued improvement of the system.

The specified skills covered in the agreement are in health care, construction, building maintenance, food services, industrial machinery, electronics, food manufacturing,  agriculture, fisheries and  aquaculture,  parts and  tooling, and aviation.

These are precisely the principal  areas in which  millions of Filipinos are working  today in various countries all over the world, where they are generally recognized, accepted, and preferred by their  foreign employers. Thus Japan said that when  some 350,000 skilled  job  openings become available  next month, it expects more one-third  of them to go to Filipinos. That  would  be at least 100,000 jobs for our workers.

This is the first half of this latest good news from Japan. The other half is the announcement  also this week that several  Japanese companies have decided to invest a total of $1.24 billion  in new and expansion projects in the Philippines. The  new projects are expected to generate 16,000 jobs  in manufacturing,  agriculture, retail, real estate, automotive, and education.

The biggest of these investments   are  $250 million  in  poultry farms and egg  production,  $76 million  in real estate and affordable  housing,  $46 million in manufacturing and  automobile parts,  and  $19.2 million in a project to convert pineapple waste to biogas to produce  electricity.

All these new enterprises will be hiring  some 16,000 Filipino workers.  They are not as many as the over 100,000 that will soon be hired for work in Japan, but  their their efforts will  be   for domestic companies whose production will count as part of  the country’s Gross Domestic  Product  (GDP).  They will also be working here in their own land, living with their own families,  which is the  ultimate goal of many  of our Overseas Filipino Workers today who have sought work abroad because  they cannot  find  it  here.

Japan  today  is  the  biggest market for Philippine  exports. With  its announcement of  employment  for so many Filipino workers and its big investments in Philippine   enterprises, Japan will become an even bigger partner in our Philippine development efforts.