Despite additional help from the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, only 9.6% of foreigners who took the qualification exam for nurses in Japan passed. Out of the 311 that took the exam, the 30 successful candidates came from the Philippines and Indonesia.
Additional efforts were given to foreigners taking the exam to make it easier for them to pass. They received 30% more time to complete the exam, as well as complimentary transliteration of kanji into hiragana so they don’t need to memorize the characters anymore. The 30 who passed (20 Indonesians and 10 Filipinos) the qualification exam came to Japan between 2009 and 2011 as part of the Economic Partnership Agreement, a bilateral free-trade accord. Foreigners are given a certain period of time to overcome the language barrier so they can work as nurses and care givers. They were also given a one-year visa extension as well so they can take the exam.
The ministry also announced measures to encourage nursing care facilities to hire foreign nurses from the two countries. At present, the facilities have to pay foreign candidates who applied as trainees from their own funds, rather than getting their salary from the care fund provided by the local government. But now, the ministry will allow the nursing homes to apply for nursing care rewards for foreigner trainees who have stayed in Japan for more than six months and have a certain amount of fluency in Japanese already.
To cope with the growing number of elderly in the nursing care facilities, Japan started accepting care givers from Indonesia in 2008, with 104 nurses taking on different jobs. Then in 2009, a combined 379 Filipino and Indonesian nurses worked in Japan. But since 2010, the numbers have dwindled down to below 150. A commission on inquiry will look into other ideas to bring up the passers in the qualification exams, like adding more completion time or extending their period of stay in Japan.
[ via Kyodo News ]