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Loan for Covid Relief, Avenue for Indian Skilled Workers – Japan’s Cooperation in Times of Pandemic

The strengthening bond between India and Japan in recent years is too evident to see. Apart from the partnership in the High-speed train project or the Dedicated Freight Corridor, the bond between the two nations is mostly seen through a strategic perspective, and perhaps rightly so, considering the tension that both countries have with China.

Nevertheless, cooperation is about taking care of all aspects and helping each other wherever necessary and possible. Two recent measures involving India and Japan in recent days perfectly reflects this spirit.

Japan’s Loan Programme for India’s Vulnerable

To support India’s efforts at providing social assistance to the poor and vulnerable households severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan has committed a loan to India at low interest rate. Official Development Assistance loan of an amount of ¥30 billion (approx. ₹2,113 crore) has been committed by Japan. Hindustan Times reported that this loan carries an interest rate of 0.65% per annum and a repayment period of 15 years, including a five-year grace period.

The report also quoted a Japanese embassy statement, “This loan provides the necessary funds for the government of India to implement economic support programs for the poor and vulnerable and policy reforms, including but not limited to health and medical sectors, which are essential in the fight against Covid-19.”

Avenue for India’s Skilled Workers

It is known that many skilled workers working abroad have returned India due to the pandemic. Many, including the domestic skilled workers, are searching for opportunities.

A memorandum of cooperation with Japan that has been approved by the Indian cabinet a couple of days ago is hopeful in providing some respite in this regard.

This Memorandum of Cooperation would set an institutional mechanism for partnership and cooperation between India and Japan on sending and accepting skilled Indian workers, who have qualified the required skill and Japanese language test, to work in fourteen specified sectors in Japan. These Indian workers would be granted a new status of residence of “Specified Skilled Worker” by the Government of Japan.

These are the sectors in which Indian skilled workers may get an opportunity of work in Japan: Nursing care; Building cleaning; Material Processing industry; Industrial machinery manufacturing industry; Electric and electronic information related industry; Construction; Shipbuilding and ship-related industry; Automobile maintenance; Aviation; Lodging; Agriculture; Fisheries; Food and beverages manufacturing industry and Food service industry.

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