JPEPA no longer a toxic reality?

“If it is not true that Japan will export toxic wastes to the Philippines, then why should we reject that agreement? In short, unless there are other very weighty arguments that would show the agreement is disadvantageous to the Philippines, then the way is open for its ratification,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said Malacañang has not yet transmitted the JPEPA to the Senate since it was signed in Helsinki, Finland in September, 2006. But the senators were able to obtain a copy of the same from other sources, he added.

The senator said Ambassador to Tokyo Domingo Siazon told him that the Japanese government has already signed a protocol to the JPEPA binding it not to allow the exportation of toxic wastes to the Philippines.

The protocol reportedly provides that the Japanese government shall respect Philippine laws on the protection of environment, such as the Clean Air Act and Anti-Pollution Act, as well as the Basel Convention which bans the transfer of toxic materials from one country to another.

Pimentel said he met Ambassador Siazon in Manila about two weeks ago.

The JPEPA liberalizes the entry of Philippine products into Japan by reducing the tariff to zero or minimum rates. It also allows the entry of Filipino nurses, caregivers and other health workers to Japan. 

“This is a big step to open the Japanese labor market to Filipino professionals. Before, most Filipinos going to Japan were workers in the hospitality, entertainment and construction industries,” Pimentel said.

But Pimentel noted that Japan imposes “very stiff requirements” on Filipino health workers. “These include requiring them to undergo special skills training and learning to speak Nippongo,” he said.

He also noted that Tokyo has limited the number of Filipino health workers who will be employed there to only 400 a year.

Pimentel also cited the observation of the Philippine Nurses Association that the compensation package for foreign nurses and caregivers in Japan is not attractive, compared to that in the United States and United Kingdom. (MindaNews)