‘No to Filipino nurses’

By CHERYL ARCIBAL – The Japanese Nursing Association (JNA), which is against the entry of Filipino nurses in Japan, said the working conditions of Japanese nurses must be improved first before Filipinos are taken in.

In a recent interview, Kyoko Nagaike, a JNA board member, told The Manila Times that the salaries of Japanese nurses should at least be doubled before Filipino nurses could work in Japanese hospitals.

Under the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), Filipino nurses and caregivers can work in Japan as long as they undergo training and pass the licensure examination, which is written in Japanese.

The exams are the same tests given to Japanese nurses and caregivers.

Japanese nurses get a basic starting salary of 193,924 yen or about P85,000.

Nagaike said the JNA believes there are enough nurses in Japan to look after the growing number of senior citizens.

Nagaike said the JNA would only be willing to support the entry of Filipino nurses if the Japanese government could ensure that they would be given the same treatment and salaries that Japanese nurses were receiving.

“If we allow Filipino nurses to come in and they would be given lower salaries and lower benefits than the Japanese nurses are receiving, it could spell worse times for us because as it is now, the working conditions of Japanese nurses need much improvement and if cheap labor would come in, these working conditions, we’re afraid, would remain,” she said through an interpreter.

Nagaike said that if the working conditions of Japanese nurses were improved, as much as 550,000 nurses and nursing assistants would go back to working in hospitals.

The JNA laid down four conditions for accepting Filipino nurses in Japan:

• Filipino nurses must obtain a Japanese nursing license by passing National Examination for nurses.

• They must be proficient enough in the Japanese language to practice safe nursing care.

• They must be employed under the same or better conditions if they work in Japan.

• They must not admit mutual recognition of licenses.

Officials of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that under the JPEPA, Filipino nurses must go through six months of training before they can take the Japanese licensure examinations. Nurses will have three chances to pass the test before they are sent back to the Philippines.

Caregivers would be given four years of training and one chance to pass the licensure exam.

Nagaike, however, acknowledged that Filipino nurses could revitalize the nursing profession in Japan. She noted that in the Philippines the nursing course is four years, whereas in Japan, it only takes three years.

Nagaike said there is no shortage of young Japanese people who would like to be nurses.

In 2005, there were 215,211 Japanese students who were in nursing and midwifery schools, just marginally lower than 2004’s 216,6390 and higher than 2003’s 213,619.

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