Nepal and Japan to finalise labour migration mechanisms within MarchNepal and Japan are likely to agree and finalise the formalities required for the migration of Nepali workers to Japan within this month.
Chandan Kumar Mandal
Nepal and Japan are likely to agree and finalise the formalities required for the migration of Nepali workers to Japan within this month.
According to a top official at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, governments of both the countries have expedited the process after positive discussions.
“If everything goes as planned, both countries will arrive at a concrete conclusion regarding labour migration to Japan within March,” said the official, who requested anonymity as the discussions revolve around diplomatic issues.
Over the next five years, Japan will hire a total of 345,000 foreign workers from China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. The decision came in December last year and Nepal is the only country from South Asia which is on the list.
According to the ministry official, the labour migration of Nepali workers will most likely happen under the government-to-government (G2G) modality in which governments of both the countries oversee the overall process of labour migration.
“We have proposed the G2G modality from the very beginning. The modality is similar to that of South Korea where our experience of sending workers has been phenomenal in comparison to other destination countries,” added the official.
In January last year when the Japanese delegation visited Nepal, the Nepali government had strongly proposed that there should be no presence of intermediaries to prevent any malpractices and fraudulent activities, while recruiting Nepali workers for Japan.
“Japan is one of the most sought after job destination and there could be high chances of fraud when there are more candidates competing for limited opportunities,” said the official.
After the Japanese government sought Nepal’s suggestion on measures to eliminate such ill-practices, Nepal had in writing, submitted possible measures to which, the Japanese counterparts expressed commitments and zero tolerance to any potential malpractices.
“During our informal and formal discussions, both countries have agreed so far to adopt the G2G modality. However, it is yet to be agreed formally on the paper,” said the official, who added that the spirit of response towards combating intermediary fraud also shows that the G2G modality is most likely to come in force.
The working draft of the ‘Memorandum of Cooperation’ shared by the Japanese side also mentions the language requirement as a prerequisite for aspirant Nepali workers. A Nepali migrant worker would require a minimum N4 level of Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) which has a total of five levels and the mechanism for testing language proficiency of the workers will be decided by the Japanese authority.
“The language requirement may vary as per the nature of the work. A caregiver might require higher proficiency than other categories of workers,” the official told the Post.
Japan has also declared that foreign workers will be allowed to work across 14 industrial sectors which include nursing care, janitorial work, manufacturing, the hotel industry, agriculture and fishing, as well as food processing and food services. However, there is no clarity on how the skills of the workers will be tested before they qualify for Japanese jobs.
“We have inquired the Japanese counterparts for some sort of curriculum or description of requirements which could work as a reference to ensure if our labour force has been trained accordingly. They will be sharing such documents soon,” the official said.
According to the labour ministry official, as per the Japanese labour law, a foreign worker cannot be paid less than the native Japanese worker for the same work.
“They can be paid more but not less than the Japanese workers. Also, health facilities and other welfare coverage are impressive for foreign workers,” said the ministry official.
The number of Nepali workers that Japan would be hiring is not fixed yet. According to officials from both sides, the possible intake of Nepali workers would depend on the demand of private sector of Japan.
“They have assured that if we can share details about area of expertise and skills of our workers, they will communicate that to the private sectors which can be helpful to them for hiring workers,” said the labour ministry official.