• Kyodo

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The first foreign housekeepers to be hired under a government policy aimed at helping Japanese professional women re-enter the workforce after having children will take up their new duties as early as March in Kanagawa Prefecture and the city of Osaka, according to prospective employers.

About 50 Filipino domestic helpers are scheduled to begin arriving in Japan in February to undergo training before being dispatched to clients in the two areas by Pasona Inc. and three other employers.

Previously, only certain households, such as those of foreign diplomats, were allowed to employ foreign housekeepers. But in 2015 the Abe administration pushed to deregulate the market in a bid to increase participation by Japanese women in the workforce.

The legal change, which is also aimed at easing labor shortages in the housekeeping industry, paved the way for non-Japanese to work as domestic help in some designated areas, including Kanagawa and Osaka.

Major cleaning company Duskin will send four of the housekeepers to Kanagawa and four to Osaka, while the Pasona staffing firm will dispatch 25 to Kanagawa.

Bears, a housekeeping service provider, will dispatch a total of eight to the two areas, while Poppins, which offers child care, educational support services and nursing care, will send five to Kanagawa.

In addition, Nichiigakkan, a major nursing care company, has applied to hire 30 foreign housekeepers so it can start offering a similar service by summer.

Work under the program will be limited to such activities as cooking, laundry, cleaning, shopping and child care. The workers will not be allowed to engage in nursing care.

Prospective housekeepers must be at least 18 years old, have at least one year of work experience in housekeeping services and possess basic Japanese-language skills. They must undergo training for at least 200 hours.

Those who are hired as housekeepers can stay in Japan for a maximum of three years.

While Japanese housekeepers mainly work part time, their counterparts from abroad must be paid on a full-time basis and provided with accommodations.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has also begun soliciting providers of similar services in Tokyo, which has been given the special status. Bears is seeking to hire 10 to 15 people and Poppins 12 to work in homes in the capital.

The central government eventually wants to expand the program nationwide.

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