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Irasshaimase! Pnoy takes Tokyo trip

MANILA, Philippines – A progressive Philippines run by a clean government will be highlighted by President Aquino III during his visit in Japan this week.

Fresh from his visit to the United States, the President flew to Tokyo for a four-day official visit to bolster bilateral relations and attract more investors with promises of transparent governance and a friendly business-climate.

His journey to Japan includes meetings with Emperor Akihito, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, business leaders, and the Filipino community. Aquino is expected to return to Manila on September 28.

“These are the goals of our visit — to tell the world about the light of change in the country, to introduce a Philippines on the straight path of governance, a Philippines that is open and with a level playing field for business,” the President said in Filipino before boarding his plane.

The President noted that he had successful trips to China and United States in recent weeks which showed “not only of our improving foreign relations, but of the countries’ increasing confidence in the Philippines”.

“Now we’re traveling to Japan to further boost relations between our two countries,” he said.

Aquino also voiced optimism about his imminent meeting with the new Japanese prime minister in a bid to strengthen bilateral relations as well as craft future direction of such partnership. He will also convey the country’s sympathies with the people of Japan for their loss in the devastating tsunami and earthquake last March.

Aquino is also excited to meet with Japanese Emperor, saying his meeting will be “personal” since his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, met the royalty in 1989.

“Now that I am President, we are grateful for the Emperor’s invitation and sustain our good relations with them,” he added. In his meetings with Japanese businessmen, Aquino said he will encourage them to do business in the country, citing that the Philippines is now more conducive for investments.

Aquino said he will also hold a dialogue with the Filipino community in Japan and inform them about the improving situation back home. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)

Filipino entertainers still composed the majority of deployed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Japan, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said.

Labor Undersecretary Danilo Cruz said in an interview that while deployment of entertainers or “Japayukis” in Japan sharply fell since 2004, they still comprise the bulk of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) being sent to that country.

“We still send entertainers to Japan although the number has drastically dropped since the Japanese government imposed stricter requirements in hiring of Overseas Pilipino Artists (OPA),” Cruz said.

It was recalled Japan imposed stricter requirements on the visa application of migrant entertainment workers in 2004 to curb its prevalent human trafficking cases.

Cruz said the number of Filipino musicians, singers, dancers, and choreographers used to reach 80,000 before the new requirements were imposed. (Samuel Medenilla)

TOKYO, Japan – They were taken too lightly before, as mere entertainers whose forte was to sing and dance.

But respect for OFWs in Japan is changing for the better as they fill up jobs for skilled workers offered by Japanese firms here.

Filipino seafarers are also becoming in demand as well as the nurses, who endear themselves to the aging Japanese population with their uniquely Filipino special care and attention.

Labor Attache Clifford Paragua said the labor market for skilled OFWs is vastly expanding in various fields such as information technology and health care.

Under the Aquino administration, some 12,000 OFWs entered Japan as skilled workers while some of them were hired under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

On huge labor market for Filipinos is the shipping industry where 53,000 Filipino seamen are manning Japanese ships, Paragua said.

Right now, about seven in 10 seamen in Japanese ships are Filipinos, making them highly valuable in the Japanese shipping industry.

“Filipino seamen enjoy the trust and confidence of their Japanese employers,” he said.

The JPEPA, ratified by the Senate in 2008, allows the entry of health workers and those in the engineering and information technology center after getting language training.

With the surplus of nursing graduates in the Philippines, the JPEPA has opened the door for their employment, Paragua said.

Some 500 Filipino nurses were hired under the JPEPA, with the fourth tranche of recruitment already underway for 2012, Paragua said.

Paragua said skilled Filipino workers have earned the respect of the Japanese people because of their good nature, communication skills, and valuable credentials for the job.

“They work hard, they hardly complain with the time and the work load,” Paragua said on the general impression of the Japanese on Filipino workers.

“They also say they’re always smiling and with happy disposition.” he added. (Raymund F. Antonio)