It’s been almost four years since Japan opened its doors to nurses from other Asian countries like the Philippines and Indonesia. Next year, Japan is expecting to welcome care workers from Vietnam. And yet up to now, foreign nurses and care workers are somewhat reluctant to try their luck in country because they feel that the Japanese are still wary of accepting foreign aid.
Japan started accepting health care workers from other countries to ease a shortage of Japanese workers. As the population of Japan rapidly declines and ages, it is expected that even more nurses will be needed by 2025. But some Japanese are still unconvinced that the country desperately needs to accept more foreign workers to alleviate the labor force woes, fearing that their culture might get diluted as more and more immigrants are accepted. But aside from cultural barriers, language also presents a problem for many of the foreign workers, who are required to pass a Japanese exam that includes many complex medical terms. The initial run of the tests were so difficult that none of 82 foreign workers passed in 2009 and only three out of 256 passed in 2010. The Japanese government simplified the exams but the results were still very low. The very high standards set for foreign care workers seem to be indicative of Japan’s wariness to accept too many foreigners in.
The government also points out that accepting more foreign workers is not the solution to the labor shortage that the country is now experiencing. Nobuyuki Yumi from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare says that this is not an indication of shortage in the health care field. As more and more young Japanese are now in search of employment, the nursing and health care fields can help generate these needed positions. He added that the government has not yet made any position regarding the hiring of more foreign health care workers and that nurses who have quit can be encouraged to return to work if needed.
[via Asia News Network]