Come, see what you missed, Marcos tells Japanese travelers
TOKYO—Saying the country is “open and ready to welcome more Japanese onto our shores,” President Marcos on Thursday invited Japanese travelers to return to the Philippines as he asked Tokyo to ease up on negative travel advisories.
“We are working on lobbying to the Japanese government for the lifting or limiting of its travel advisory against the Philippines,” Marcos said at a meeting with Japanese tourism stakeholders on the second day of his official visit.
The two countries’ people-to-people ties are pre-Hispanic and the Japanese community is one of the largest expatriate groups in the Philippines since the 1970s when Japanese manufacturers started up their local facilities.
But Japanese tourism dwindled through the years, especially after the kidnapping of businessman Nobuyuki Wakaoji in the 1980s, which was followed by many crime incidents involving Japanese nationals, including the killing of jazz harpist Tadao Hayashi, who lived in Caloocan City, in 2001.
Many Japanese had immigrated to the country through the decades and many notable Filipinos are of Japanese ancestry, including former Health Secretary Enrique Ona, actress-politician Aiko Melendez, Sen. Raffy Tulfo and Camarines Sur Rep. Tsuyoshi Horibata.
Other Filipino celebrities of Japanese ancestry, called “Japino” in Filipino, are Akiko Thomson, Iwa Moto and screenwriter Michiko Yamamoto, among others.
Marcos did not mention the security concerns that drove away Japanese tourists, but he said education is a good reason for Japanese to go the Philippines now, as in the past.
“Filipinos are known to be citizens of the world. Filipinos have a fluency in English… And where else can you better learn English than in the Philippines,” said the President, who was accompanied by Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco.
Marcos said the government would pay special attention on the exchanges of students and professionals in tourism-related institutions.
Japanese employers were quick to respond, said Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople, with more than 80 Japanese firms saying they want to hire more Filipino workers because of their “excellent work ethic” and “friendly disposition.”
Ople said the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) would open a desk dedicated to the “fast processing” of Filipino workers bound for Japan.
“The general sentiment among Japanese employers was that Filipino workers brightened up their workplaces and were highly reliable and trainable,” Ople said.
Ople contrasted the abusive treatment Filipinos get from employers in countries like Kuwait and said Filipinos in Japan laud the kindness of Japanese employers.
According to the DMW, salaries of workers in Japan range from 130,000 yen (P54,548) for entry level trainees up to 900,000 yen (P377,640) for highly skilled professionals.
—WITH A REPORT FROM JACOB LAZARO
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