• Kyodo

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Japan remains adamantly opposed to allowing more Filipino professionals, including nurses and other caregivers, to work in Japan, Japanese officials said Sunday.

An official from the Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said there is no shortage of nurses and other caregivers in Japan and therefore no reason to accept foreigners. The comments came during a two-day working group meeting, which ended Sunday, between Japan and the Philippines on freer trade

The ministry believes that opening up the medical industry would threaten employment conditions and pay for Japanese nurses and other caregivers at a time when the Japanese unemployment rate is at record high levels.

Of the about 100,000 Filipinos who annually obtain visas to work in Japan, about 70,000 are entertainers.

Tokyo and Manila started working-group talks on freer trade last October, and the latest meeting is the third session. They will hold the next meeting in Manila in the spring.

Japan has a free-trade agreement with Singapore and is in negotiations with Mexico for a similar pact. Japan has also been holding working-group trade talks with Thailand and is poised to start others with Malaysia as early as next month.

The Philippines has no free-trade agreements with any of its trading partners.

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