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Remarks by the Foreign Secretary at the Signing Ceremony of the Memorandum of Cooperation on Specified Skilled Workers with Japan

January 18, 2021

H.E. Mr. Satoshi Suzuki, Ambassador of Japan to India;
Shri Praveen Kumar, Secretary Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Govt. of India
Shri Naveen Srivastava, Additional Secretary (East Asia), Ministry of External Affairs;
Officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice of the Govt of Japan and the Embassy of Japan in New Delhi;

Colleagues and dear friends,

It is a matter of great satisfaction that we are signing the agreement on Specified Skilled Workers (SSW) today.

India and Japan share a Special Strategic and Global Partnership. Skill development has been an important aspect of this partnership.

In this regard, we have already taken several steps in the last few years under the guidance of our leadership.

In 2016, we signed the "Manufacturing Skill Transfer Promotion Programme” agreement for training 30,000 persons over 10 years with Japanese style manufacturing skills and practices.

Subsequently, Japan-India Institutes for Manufacturing (JIM) and Japanese Endowed Courses (JEC) in colleges across India have been established. I am told that as of date, 13 JIMs and 5 JECs are already operational.

We would want to rapidly expand the number of youth skilled by this programme to reach the target of 30,000.

In 2017, we also signed the "Technical Intern Training Programme” agreement. This agreement has enabled Indian youth to access internships in Japan in diverse industry sectors. I am informed that around 200 interns have been placed in Japan so far.

In this context, this MoC on Specified Skilled Workers marks a further important step in this direction. I am sure that this agreement will not only aid in the movement of skilled Indians to Japan to meet the requirements of the Japanese market, but will also enable greater interaction between our peoples and strengthen people-to-people ties.

I would like to mention here that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has placed high priority on quickly operationalizing this MoC. I am also informed that Prime Minister Suga, when he was Chief Cabinet Secretary, was one of the prime movers of the SSW programme to address the needs of Japan’s skilled labour market. With an early operationalization of this MoC, both our countries can synergize our strengths and have mutually beneficial outcomes.

I may mention here that in the wake of the COVID crisis, special efforts have been made tap the skills of workers returning from countries abroad. In this endeavour, the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of External Affairs have jointly launched the SWADES (Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support) initiative as a skill mapping exercise of citizens returning under the Vande Bharat Mission. As on 30 September 2020, around 30,000 citizens had registered for the SWADES Skill Card. Details from the data base are being shared with companies for suitable placement opportunities in the country to facilitate rehabilitation of the workers.

In the implementation of the SSW, the Indian side looks forward to working closely with the Japanese side to ensure that we can meet our objectives smoothly and quickly.

In this context, one of the areas that we may need to focus on would be the expansion of Japanese language training in India. Thanks to our joint efforts, there has been an increase in such training but the potential to increase it significantly exists.

In this regard, we look forward to support from the Japanese side. I would request Ambassador Suzuki to keep this aspect in mind.

With these words, let me invite Your Excellency to make your remarks before we sign the agreement.

New Delhi
January 18, 2021


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