JAPANESE shipping firms will continue to hire Filipino seafarers to work on their vessels, the Japanese Shipowners’ Association (JSA) assured President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, according to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).
“Filipino seafarers are essential to Japanese shipping industry. And so we sincerely and strongly hope that there will continue to be a steady supply of professional and well-trained Filipino seafarers to work alongside us,” Junichiro Ikeda, president of JSA and chairman of Mitsui OSK Lines, told Marcos during a shipowners’ meeting in Tokyo.
Marcos arrived in Japan for a five-day state visit on Wednesday.
Filipino seafarers make up some 75 percent of the crew of Japanese ocean-going vessels, the PCO said. In the last 10 years, an average of 6,600 Filipino seafarers were deployed yearly to vessels with the Japanese Flag of Registry, it added.
The latest development is welcome news to the Philippines, which is currently facing the threat of job losses for as many as 50,000 Filipino seafarers deployed on European Union (EU)-flagged vessels for its failure to pass the European Maritime Safety Agency’s evaluation.
Last December, Marcos announced that the Philippines had been given three months to meet EU standards in the training and assessment of seafarers.
For faster communication between Japanese shipowners and land-based employers with the Philippine government, Marcos said Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople would put up a Japan Desk at the Office of the Secretary. Japanese shipowners have invested in maritime training schools in Canlubang, Laguna and Bataan, the PCO said.
The Philippines is the top global provider of seafarers, accounting for a quarter of all global merchant shipping crew members, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (Unctad) Review of Maritime Transport 2021.
In 2019, the remittances of overseas Filipino seafarers amounted to $6.5 billion. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, however, this fell to $6.3 billion in 2020, the report showed.
According to the 2021 Unctad report, an estimated 700,000 Filipino seafarers were deployed on domestic or foreign-flagged seagoing vessels.