Continuing Philippine-Japan relationship
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - August 17, 2019 - 12:00am

Mr. And Mrs. Nakamura are here in Cebu from Fukuoka. They arrived two days ahead of their daughter and her family. Together, they are looking forward to a relaxing, memorable vacation as Cebu is famous in Japan for its beautiful beaches and blue skies.

It was our research about Filipino nurses and care workers in Japan that brought us together. The Economic Partnership Agreement was about to start, with the Japanese government allowing Filipino nurses and caregivers to go to Japan to assist the Japanese elderly.

We learned that the Nakamuras started Inter-Asia Inc. which offered Japanese language classes and caregiving training to former Filipino entertainers married to Japanese in Fukuoka. We wanted to interview them about their Filipino students and their company. There were other Japanese companies and groups that offered, with profit as their goal, such type of training in Japan for Filipino and other foreigners.

The Nakamuras, however, started their company to celebrate and continue the dream of their only son to serve as a bridge for Asian women to work in Japan. Their son learned during his trips to various Asian countries about the dream and desire of Asian women to work in Japan. However, he learned that many Asian women were instead exploited in Japan. So, he decided to quit his job and use his savings to start a company that will allow women to work in Japan and ensure their protection at work. Sadly, after one trip, Nakamura-san's son was discovered to have brain tumor and at 37, he died. The Nakamuras grieved for their only son but after some years, the couple realized that rather than grieve, their son would be happy if they continued his dream to serve as a bridge for Asian women to work and be protected in Japan.

The Nakamuras also wanted to give our former Filipino entertainers skills that will allow them to be positively appreciated because of their hard work as caregivers of Japanese elderly. For more than a decade now, their company has continued to offer language and caregiving courses to link the Filipino caregivers and needy Japanese elderly.

Since we met first, the Nakamuras have become our family in Japan. We continue to be grateful to them for their genuine confidence and trust in Filipino women in Fukuoka. We also appreciate their sincere concern for a better relationship between Filipinos and Japanese, by doing their best to install protective policies and mechanisms that will mutually benefit Filipinos and other foreign workers in Japan as well as the Japanese.

They are believers and practitioners of a true multicultural society for Japan. Given very little choice but to accept and allow foreigners to provide work and service for an elderly, ageing Japan, the Nakamuras, like us, continue to pursue and make our dream and the dream of his son come true: That foreigners, including our own Filipino migrants, are finally accepted and recognized by the Japanese and Japanese society as equals deserving protection as human beings.

While they are here for vacation, they also requested us to set appointments with those who are teaching Nihongo in Cebu. The Japanese government started the Specialized/ Special Technical Training Policy allowing foreigners to enter and work in Japan for some years. The policy is also open to allowing these trainees to later bring their family to Japan. The policy also allows caregivers to enter Japan. However, those interested have to learn Nihongo and pass a Japanese language test. The Nakamuras are interested to explore how they can facilitate a more protective network for prospective Filipino trainees, especially caregivers and nurses.

"Let us continue to bridge between your people and ours, okay," Nakamura- san reminded us, "let us never give up, okay?"

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