KATHMANDU: Nepal has signed a memorandum of cooperation to send to Japan skilled workers for the first time.

The agreement was signed in Kathmandu on Monday by Japanese Ambassador Masamichi Saigo and a Nepalese government representative. The agreement opens door for Nepali workers to get jobs in Japan based on the government-to-government recruitment deal.

Narayan Regmi, spokesman at the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, said the ministry would set up a body that will facilitate the recruitment process.

The Japanese government decided in December to recruit 345,000 foreign workers in five years from nine countries, including Nepal, to address the rapidly depleting and aging workforce.

The number of travelers from Nepal to Japan has been growing significantly in the last few years. Nepal received 27,326 Japanese tourists last year.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the number of Nepalis living in Japan has swelled to more than 60,000 compared to 31,531 at the end of 2013.

The Nepali community is the fifth largest foreign community in Japan. With the 2020 Olympic Games approaching, Japan will be an attractive destination for Nepalis, and the number of Nepalis in Japan is likely to grow substantially in the coming years, the ministry said.

Every year, more than 10,000 Nepali students go to Japan to pursue higher studies and learn the Japanese language. Japan is the second most popular destination after the US among Nepali students going abroad to pursue higher studies, the ministry said.