By Azer Parrocha

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PNA photo by Rolando Mailo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday assured Japanese shipping companies that his administration would continue to work closely with them to ensure a ready pool of highly-skilled Filipino seafarers required by Japanese maritime companies.

“The JSA (Japanese Shipowners’ Association) has the assurance of the Philippine government that we will continue to work together as a team, as partners in ensuring that your requirements for more seafarers shall be met because clearly you care for them very much and they are in good hands while under your employment,” Marcos said during a meeting with chief executive officers of Japanese shipping companies in Tokyo, Japan.

He said the Department of Migrant Workers’ (DMW) recent creation of an International Advisory Committee on Global Maritime Affairs shows how important Filipino seafarers are to both the domestic and international labor markets.

Marcos also bared that DMW Secretary Susan Ople would establish a Japan desk at the Office of the Secretary to ensure faster communication and coordination between Japanese shipowners and land-based employers with the administration.

He said the DMW, the Department of Transportation, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Maritime Industry Authority have been receiving direct guidance from the Office of the President on how to boost the competitiveness of Filipino seafarers and improve their maritime education and skills training.

Meanwhile, Marcos thanked Japanese shipowners for their investments in maritime training schools located in the provinces of Laguna and Bataan, recording 1,200 cadets per school per year.

He said the hiring of Filipino cadets by Japanese shipowners ensures the sustainability of the country’s manpower resource pipeline.

“We welcome and look forward to these training investments from the JSA,” Marcos said, expressing hope that other international shipping associations would follow suit.

JSA president and Mitsui OSK Lines chairperson Junichiro Ikeda, meanwhile, assured the Philippines that they would continue to hire Filipino seafarers to operate their ships safely.

“The Filipino seafarers play a big role. So having all said, Filipino seafarers are essential to the 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,” Ikeda said.

He said the JSA was seeking the President’s help and assurance for the steady supply of Filipino seafarers.

Ikeda said he expected the quality standard of Filipino seafarers to continue to improve, citing the Philippine government’s continuous efforts to upgrade their skills.

He also thanked the Philippine government for supporting the “very successful” operation of Japan-backed maritime training schools and facilities in the country.

He noted that Japanese shipping companies employ a large number of Filipino seafarers because they are regarded as “very much high-quality seafarers.”

Government data showed that about 75 percent of the crew of Japanese ocean-going vessels consist of Filipino seafarers.

An average of 6,600 Filipino seafarers per year are deployed to vessels with the Japanese Flag of Registry in the past 10 years. (PNA)