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WATCH | Maiden batch of Pinay cleaners to fly to Japan this month

A tourist in front of the Imperial Palace braves the first snowfall in 54 years in Japan in November 2016 file photo. Once a closed country to migrant household workers, Japan recently opened its doors to help its graying population and dwindling workforce. Soon, the pilot batch of Filipina cleaners will be off to try their luck in Japan. REUTERS FILE

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MANILA -- Once a closed country to migrant household workers, Japan has recently opened its doors to help its graying population and dwindling workforce. And in a few weeks, the pilot batch of Filipina cleaners will be off to try their luck in Japan.

Twenty-six Pinay housekeepers trained by Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts for the past two months are now just waiting for their work visas. Once in Japan, the cleaners will be employed and deployed by Magsaysay's partner Pasona Group Inc. earning an average monthly salary of $1,500 a month or about P74,000.

"One of the concerns today is the aging population and the lack of labor in Japan. Because of that this program is very important as it's the first kind," said Scott Sato, president and COO of Pasona.

Trainees underwent a total of 400 hours of training, 300 hours of which were primarily devoted to learning the Japanese languge.

"To be successful in Japan they must be able to understand the culture of Japan and for that language is very important," said Marlon Rono, president of Magsaysay Global Services.

For a graying population such as Japan where the average age is in the 40s, opening up the economy to migrant workers of young countries like the Philippines is but a sensible step to stem their dwindling workfroce. 

Japan is also hoping that with migrant workers taking the brunt of household chores, more Japanese women will be prodded to enter the workforce.

As of now, work is strictly restricted to cleaning households but Pasona sees more opportunities as Japans throws open its doors to more tourists.

"Japan is really focusing on tourism. Last year, Japan expected 20 million tourists but got 24 million which is the most we've had," Sato said.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) show that there are at present 355 job vacancies for Japan, a number that the agency expects to grow.

"We see this as an opportunity that they are opening up to Filipino housekeepers. I think that with the globalization, demand for foreign workers will continue because of differences in demographics in various regions," said Liberty Casco, POEA deputy administrator.

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