Filipino housekeepers’ Japan dream


    With 400 hours of training under their aprons, they are ready to clean

    MANILA/TOKYO — Beside a table with a teapot, teacups and chopsticks, Rovie Ebanculla vacuums a tatami mat while another female colleague cleans an elaborate toilet bowl, the kind that have made their way into many Japanese homes.

    Both are in the Philippines, in a simulated room inside the Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, to be exact. But they hope to land housekeeping jobs in Kanagawa Prefecture, next to Tokyo, within weeks.

    They and 24 other “professional housekeepers” are to make up the first batch of Filipino workers to be deployed to Japan via staffing agency Pasona.

    Japan’s immigration policy used to allow foreigners to work as housekeepers only in the homes of diplomats and a few select others. But in 2015, a so-called “special zones” law was revised to allow foreign housekeepers to be employed in three regions.

    The special zones law is part of the current Japanese government’s growth strategy. The revision is, in part, meant to help Japanese women re-enter the workforce after having babies.

    Makiko Sawafuji, manager of Pasona’s housekeeping unit, said the Filipino workers will help the understaffed industry. “Recruitment,” she said, “has always been a big problem for us.”

    Foreign housekeepers will also be allowed to work in Osaka and Tokyo.

    There is no limit to the number of foreign workers companies can hire in each “zone,” and Pasona has a bold plan to hire 1,000 Filipinos over three years once it starts the dispatch service.

    For 10,000 yen (about $89), Pasona will send someone to clean a client’s home twice a month for two hours each time. Other plans are more expensive.

    Thorough training



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