I watched TV program “Asia Insight” produced by NHK WORLD-JAPAN.
“Japan and the Philippines: Specified Skilled Worker System Year One”
In April of 2019, Japan introduced a new visa status, the Specified Skilled Worker, intended to encourage foreign laborers to boost Japan’s dwindling workforce. In theory, the system appears to be a fine proposal both for young Filipinos eager to send money home, and Japanese industries hoping for new workers. In practice, however, bureaucratic complications between the 2 nations mean that making use of the system isn’t as easy as it should be.
1 year since the law was passed, citizens of the Philippines are still unable to obtain the visa, but they continue studying as they wait for the system to be put into action
Two Filipino/Filipina were introduced in this program, Airah Lette san and Pesigan san, who tries to or who are working
One is the case of Airah Lette san, who studies for the skills test in order to obtain the Specified Skilled Worker visa for the food service industry.
She is in five-months-course in her Japanese language school and passed exam.
The Case of Airah Lette san
I worked part time at a fast food chain for five years, so I choose the food service industry course.
I’d be able to use my experience at a fast food restaurant in Japan.
I want to go to Japan so much. For that, I have to study Japanese.
So I study hard every day.
She is so excellent as to keep high ranks in her school. She studies in 8hours a day in her school, and goes back straight to her dorm after all of classes are finished.
Test are coming up so I have to study to pass them. If I fail, I’ll let down my parents and siblings.
They’ve been so supportive. I have to do well.
I want to go to Japan this year. I’d like to work, save money, and building an apartment building here.
I hope to give my parents the rental income.
My parents are getting old, so I want them to take it easy.
She passed the examination of the specified skilled Worker for the food service industry. She is looking forward to receiving visa.
The Case of Pesigan san
Another is the case of Pesigan san who is employed at a shipyard in Sasebo, Nagasaki.
170 Filipinos work in the shipyard there. Almost all of them work there as technical interns, which is training system to obtain abilities in manufacturing, agriculture, construction and so on.
Trainee will be able to change their residence status into Specified Skilled workers after they finish their trainings for three years.
Pesigan san also changed his residence status into Specified Skilled workers.
I work here as a welder. At first I didn’t welding. But I gradually learned the skills. Now I enjoy it.
This shipyard has been received foreign trainees for 13 years. At present, about 10% of workers are non-Japanese there.
Yuki Nakao, company president of Osumi Kogyo, told that only one Japanese had applied to its job offers in past one year.
We need younger workers, but not too many are interested.
In that sense, the specified skilled worker system really helps us.
In his company, 15 Filipinos work with specified skilled worker visa, who can change their jobs unlike trainee visa.
We worry that foreign workers will switch to higher paying jobs in the city.
So we feel the need to offers things other than stable income.
For example, a friendly work space, and better relations with colleagues.
We need to be a company that foreign workers will want to choose.
There is a blind spot, however, in the specified skilled workes visa obtained in Japan; once someone with that visa returns to their home countries, they are not able to come back to Japan for a while. The main cause of that is in lack of collaboration between two governments, Philippines and Japan.
Companies in Japan have discussed with Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) many times about problems in the system of specified skilled worker.
One of the companies in Japan asked the POEA,
If someone who swittched from technical intern to specified skilled worker returns to Philippines, they have to stay in Philippines?
Deputy Administrator of POEA answered as follows.
Yes, because we still consider them as a new applicant standard of a specified skilled worker, so they go through the process. We have to respect also the rules and guidelines that we have here in the Philippines.
So what I can say is that if anyone changing from the trainee to the worker, they should still be undergoing our own process.
Companies in Japan, which hope to secure stable human resources, feel loss.
President of a Japanese recruitment company said,
Workers themselves complain to us what they should do under such circumstance.
Japan permits them to come back but the Philippines won’t.
Which rules should we follow? It’s confusing.
The two nations should jointly create a manual that stipulates priorities or order.
Other president of a Japanese recruitment company said,
When the law was passed, we were happy it would simplify things.
But in reality, it hasn’t progressed at all.
Workes with specified skilled worker are going back to the technical intern status.
I think about my family all the time. I work hard for their sake.
He qualified in residence in Japan for 5 years and got salary increase after aquiring specified skilled worker visa. But he doesn’t know when he would be able to return to Japan once he goes back to Philippines.
He sometimes seems to be irritated.
I was really sad that I couldn’t attend my daughter’s birthday party. I hope the system will be improved and that I can go back to the Philippines.