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POLO-Tokyo

First Semester 2009 Accomplishment Report

Introduction

Japanese companies are rebuilding inventories steadily due to some improvements in


the manufacturing sector. According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
(METI), industrial output increased 5.9 percent from the previous month, rising for the
third straight month in May 2009. Moreover, manufacturers estimate that output will
continue but at a slower rate in June and July this year. Household spending, a key
indicator of private consumption, also increased 0.3 percent in May from a year earlier,
owing mainly to the government’s "eco-points" program that pushed sales of some
energy-efficient electronic items and the recent swine flu fears which obliged consumers
to spend more on healthcare products.

But while manufacturing companies in Japan may be starting to increase production,


they are not hiring yet. The Bank of Japan’s closely watched "tankan" survey indicated
that large manufacturers are still hesitant to invest and that business sentiment at small
companies is weakening. Japan’s unemployment rate, meanwhile, rose to 5.2 percent in
May 2009, the highest in more than five (5) years. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and
Communications said that the total number of unemployed persons went up by 770,000
from a year ago to 3.47 million in May 2009. Underscoring this bleak jobs environment
is a recent report of the Labor Ministry on the ratio of job offers to job seekers where it
hit the lowest record of 0.44. The figure suggests that there were only about 44 job
offers for every 100 job seekers.

All told, the figures provide the latest evidence that the worst of the recession may
have passed and reflect some positive impacts of the government stimulus package.
Nevertheless, the Japanese government is still concerned about the severe situations
small and medium-size companies face compared to large companies. So far, wages
and the jobs market have not improved and will most likely limit spending by Japanese
consumers.

Against this backdrop, POLO-Tokyo pursued its objectives of employment facilitation,


OFW protection and welfare services, policy advocacy and networking for the period
ended June 2009. The following are the highlights of POLO-Tokyo’s accomplishments
during the period covered:

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Employment Facilitation

On-site Verification of Employment Contracts. The number of companies


recommended to POEA for accreditation as principals expanded by about fifteen (15)
times (+839) in the period ended June 2009. This figure is mainly due to the
resumption of the authentication and/or verification of documents for Filipino
performing artists in Japan since September 2008. As a consequence, the Post referred
to POEA a total of 898 companies from 59 companies recorded last year (Table 1).

Table 1: On-site Verification of Employment Contracts and Issuance of OECs and ECCs,
First Semester 2009

1st SEM 2009 1st SEM 2008 Increment

Number of Contracts Recommended


For Registration to POEA 898 59 +839

Number of OECs Issued 687 706 -19

Total Amount Collected from OEC Fee


(In Local Currency: Yen) 176,950 529,500

Number of ECCs Issued 46 85 -39


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Source: POLO Tokyo, 1 Semester 2009

On-site Issuance of Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC). From January to


June 2009, the number of OECs issued on-site totaled 687 (down by 2.69 percent)
OECs issued benefiting the same number of OFWs compared to 706 OECs issued on the
same period last year. This figure translated to about ¥176,950 collected for the
payment of the OEC fee which is 66.58 percent lower than the amount collected last
year. This is due mainly to a decrease in the collection fee amount from ¥750 per OEC
last year to just ¥200 per OEC in February and ¥250 starting May this year.

On-site Issuance of Escrow Clearance Certificates (ECC). Escrow clearance


certificates (ECCs) were also issued at Post to assist principals who were withdrawing
escrow bond deposits because of cessation of their business operations. From January
to June this year, 46 ECCs were issued which is lower compared to the 85 ECCs issued
last year.

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Table 2: On-site Verification of Documents, First Semester 2009

1st SEM 2009 1st SEM 2008 Increment

Total Number of Documents Verified On-site 118 117 +1

Job Orders 28 29
Recruitment Agreements 28 29
Manning Agreements 5 2
Special Power of Attorney 27 28
Trade License (Company Registration) 30 29

Total Number of Workers Involved (as per Job Order) 2,014 2,053 -39
Overseas Performing Artists 1,561 441
Seafarers/Manning Personnel 0 20
Skilled Workers (i.e., engineers, IT workers) 453 1,592
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Source: POLO Tokyo, 1 Semester 2009

On-site Verification/Review of Documents. The verification/review of documents


related to the hiring of Filipino workers basically ensures that the contract (between the
Filipino worker and his employer in Japan) is in compliance with POEA rules and
regulations and its terms and conditions are at par with what is prescribed under
Japanese laws and standards. For the first semester of 2009, about 118 documents
were verified by POLO-Tokyo, benefiting 2,014 workers. Verified documents during the
first half of 2009 involved contracts of overseas performing artists (1,561) and
engineers and other skilled workers/professionals (453). Looking more closely at these
figures, the number of skilled workers involved decreased by 72 percent from 1,592 to
453 workers, due mainly to the lingering effects of the global financial crisis wherein
recruitment of skilled personnel by Japanese companies was severely affected.
Surprisingly, the number of overseas performing artists involved was not as greatly
affected but instead grew by more than three-folds from 441 last year to 1,561
requests for overseas performing artists in the first semester of 2009.

Labor Market Information. As of June 2009, Post prepared a total of 37 reports


which included policy recommendations forwarded to DOLE Head office.

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Social Protection and Welfare Services for OFWs

OWWA Membership Promotion Program. OWWA Membership Promotion Program


during the first semester of 2009 resulted in the enrolment or renewal of membership
of 352 OFWs in OWWA – an increase of about 76 percent (+152) from the year ago
OWWA membership. Total revenue collection reached USD 8,388.49 which increased by
69 percent compared to the amount collected during the same period last year (Table
3).

Table 3: Number of OFWs Enrolled to the OWWA Membership Program, First Semester 2009

1st SEM 2009 1st SEM 2008 Increment

Number of OWWA Membership 352 200 +152

Total Amount Collected from


Membership Fee 8,388.49 4,966.84
(Currency: USD)
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Source: POLO Tokyo, 1 Semester 2009

Workers Assistance Program.


Post handled a total of 45 welfare
cases during the first half of the
year, which is 20 percent lower
than the 56 cases recorded last
year. Of the 45 welfare cases,
some 52 workers were involved
complaining about illegal
recruitment, unpaid salaries,
maltreatment, confiscation of
passports, sexual assault, and
contract violations. Some cases
also involved request for
repatriation, temporary shelter,
legal advice, report of status of
detention and whereabouts, and
assistance in filing insurance claim
and in securing travel documents.

Out of the 45 cases managed by the Post, 30 were resolved or closed while the rest
remained pending for resolution at the end of the June 2009.

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Repatriation. Post recorded 11 cases of on-site repatriation assistance during the
period in review. Repatriation assistance were provided to eight (8) female and three
(3) male workers. The services provided include provision of transfer assistance to
airport and temporary shelter; facilitation of issuance of travel documents; and
coordination with concerned employers, agencies and government authorities. These
cases were also coordinated with OWWA RAD for airport transfer, ambulance and legal
assistance. Employers shouldered the repatriation expenses in most cases.

Policy Advocacy

During the first semester of the year, Post participated in the seminar organized by ILO-
Japan and the ILO Association of Japan entitled, “Employment and Labour Trends in
China under the Global Economic Crisis,” held last 29 January 2009. The theme of the
seminar centered on the effects of the current crisis on China’s labour and employment
aspects.

A Memorandum of Cooperation on the Development of Asian Seafarers was agreed


upon between DOLE and the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and
Tourism (MLITT) last 12 March 2009.

On that same day, Post actively participated in the policy forum, “Japan-Philippines
Seafarer Policy Forum” held at the Mita Kaigisho Special Meeting Room. The purpose of
the forum was to deepen the understanding of participants about the International
Cooperative Training Project for Asian Seafarers particularly between the Philippines
and Japan.

On-site Networking, Linkages and Other Key Activities

Creation of networks and linkages are an essential component of the development


program at the Post. The aim is to explore and sustain cooperation with both local and
international institutions for purposes of resources sharing by way of conferences and
seminars, professional or worksite and welfare-related visits, publication exchanges and
donations.

On 22 February 2009, the PML or the Philippine Men’s League (Tokyo, Japan) held its
Induction of Officers and New Members at the Meguro-Satsuki Kaikan. Labor Attaché
Danilo P. Cruz led the induction of the new members of the PML.
Post also participated in the Annual General Meeting of the Philippine Chamber of
Commerce and Industry in Japan (PCCIJ) which was held at the Philippine Embassy last
25 February 2009.

Post teamed up with the Love and Acceptance Hands-on Integrity (LAHI) Association, a
Filipino community organization based in Ibaraki and Tochige prefectures, to conduct a

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One-day Computer Training Program at the Ibaraki Ken Kensei Learning Center on 28
February 2009.

On 29 March 2009, IPS, Inc. launched a jobs fair in Tokyo where members of the
Filipino community were able to gain access to productive and remunerative
employment in the metropolis. The event was billed, “Pinoy Life Fair 2009” and Post
actively participated in said event. Labor Attaché Danilo P. Cruz gave a special message
during the opening ceremonies.

On 31 March 2009, LAHI Association President Maria Wena Inoue informed the Post
that sixteen (16) Japanese elementary schools made a pledge of support to the
"Classroom, Galing sa Mamamayang Pilipino Abroad" (CGMA) project of the Department
of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Together with the donation from the LAHI
Association, a total of ¥400,000 was acknowledged by Labor Attaché Danilo P. Cruz for
the donate-a-classroom project of DOLE. The donors identified the Gandara Central
Elementary School in Samar, Leyte as their beneficiaries.

Arrival of Filipino Nurses and Caregivers. Under the Japan-Philippines Economic


Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), the first batch of nurses and nursing caregivers from
the Philippines arrived in Japan in two (2) separate flights last 10 May 2009. A total of
273 health professionals were on-board Japan Airlines (JAL) flight 746 which arrived at
Narita Airport around 1430 JST and JAL 742 which arrived at around 1930 JST.

The contingent were met at the airport by Consul General Sulpicio M. Confiado, Labor
Attache Danilo P. Cruz, and Messrs. Emmanuel Austria and Dennis Cabato from the
Consular and Labor Sections respectively. Japanese media including representatives
from three (3) major television networks (NHK, TBS and TV Tokyo) were present to
cover the arrival of the Filipino health workers.

After their arrival, the first batch of Filipino nurses and caregivers will receive six (6)
months Japanese language training and basic information related to their jobs from

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selected language institutions in Tokyo (AOTS and Arai Gakuen), Osaka (AOTS),
Nagoya (NIC), and Hiroshima (HIC). They will start working full-time in the latter part
of this year. Welcome activities to kick-off the training course have been scheduled
during the week. In Tokyo, Arai Gakuen has planned an opening ceremony of the
Japanese language course for the 78 Filipino nursing caregivers on 11 May 2009.

Labor Attaché Danilo P. Cruz was the guest of honor at the 2nd Philippine Chamber of
Commerce in Japan (PCCIJ) seminar on Filipino Nurses/Care-Givers under JPEPA held at
the CITI CLUB OF TOKYO last 20 May 2009. LABATT Cruz made a brief presentation on
the seminar topic. After his presentation, participants to the seminar were given
opportunity to ask questions and be clarified about the JPEPA program implementation.

On June 9 2009, JICWELS organized a closing ceremony for ten (10) candidate
caregivers (exempted from the Japanese language training) who attended the
Introductory Training of “Kaigo” for Philippines Candidates for “Kaigofukushishi.” The
welcome address was given by Labor Attaché Danilo P. Cruz.

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PGMA 2009 Official Working Visit to Japan. H.E. President Gloria Macapagal-
Arroyo visited Japan from 17 to 21 June 2009. Her working visit included an audience
with the Emperor and Empress of Japan and the pursuit of very good bilateral relations
and cooperation in field of labor, trade, security and economy.

The Japan-Philippines Maritime Cooperation Dinner Reception in honor of H.E. President


Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was successfully held on 19 June 2009 at the Hotel Mariner’s
Court in Tokyo, Japan, and was attended by delegations from the Philippines and
representatives from the host organizations led by the Japanese Shipowners’
Association (JSA), All Japan Seamen’s Union (JSU), and International Mariners
Management Association of Japan (IMMAJ).

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The Dinner Reception was preceded by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing
ceremony between Japanese and Philippine representatives which included Mr. Yoji
Fujisawa of the JSU, Mr. Koji Miyahara of IMMAJ, Mr. Takao Manji of the Philippine-
Japan Manning Consultative Council, Inc. (PJMCC); and Mr. Eduardo Santos of the
Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), Mr.
Democrito Mendoza of the Philippine Seafarers Union (PSU) and Mr. Eduardo Manese of
PJMCC. The signing of the MoU was witnessed by Mr. Masafumi Shukuri, Vice-Minister
for land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and Mr. Marianito D. Roque, Minister
for Labor and Employment.

As part of the MoU, the JSU, JSA, IMMAJ and their Philippine counterparts – AMOSUP,
PSU and PJMCC – will continue to work together in creating and pursuing projects
aimed at developing the competencies and skills of Filipino seafarers and ensuring that
their skills and competencies are aligned with the changing ship technologies and global
shipping industry needs.

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Meeting with the Filipino Community. On 19 June 2009, H.E. President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo was warmly welcomed by the Filipino community at the 4th floor of
the Hotel Mariners’ Court in Tokyo.

AOTS Japanese Language School


Visit. On 20 June 2009, H.E. President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited the AOTS
language training center where thirty-six
(36) Filipino candidates for “Kangoshi”
(nurses) are undergoing free Nihonggo
language training. The Filipino nurses are
part of the 283 Filipino health
professionals training in Japan. The
President commented that these nurses
and caregivers are the “first visible impact”
of the implementation of the Japan –
Philippines Economic Partnership
Agreement or JPEPA.

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Business Forum. In celebration
of the Filipino Migrant Workers
Day this year, a business forum
with the theme,
“Usapangkabuhayan: Puhunan sa
Masaganang Buhay… A Livelihood
Festival for Filipino Workers in
Japan” was held at the Multi-
purpose Hall of the Philippine
Embassy last 21 June 2009. The
forum aimed to provide Filipino
workers in Japan: 1) Information
on financial management,
investment and business options
through business counseling and
financial literacy training; 2) Skills
on business management and
product preparation through
entrepreneurship and production
training, and 3) Job search
assistance for employment in the
Philippines or other countries.
Resource speakers included Labor
Attaché Alicia Santos and Director
Saul De Vries of the National
Reintegration Center for OFWs
(NRCO) and Dr. Rosalinda
Lacsamana of the Technology
Resource Center (TRC). Former
Labor Secretary Patricia Sto.
Tomas also graced the event to
share her knowledge and expertise
to the participants.

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