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417 foreigners sit for Japan nursing exam


Some 417 foreigners from Indonesia and the Philippines were among 54,270 applicants who sat for the Japan nursing examination held nationwide on Sunday.

The number of foreigners taking the test has increased year by year to reach this year's record number, labor ministry officials said, according to Fuji TV.

The number of foreign recipients of the examination who pass has historically been low, but a labor ministry official said that this was often the result of difficult Japanese kanji characters being used, rather than any kind of knowledge gap between foreigners and Japanese.

The ministry decided to affix readings alongside difficult kanji characters for the 2012 exam in an effort to remedy this problem.

Results of the test will be announced March 26.

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there's a real news story here, like why only 0.8 % of applicants made it. That would suggest other, more specific barriers, not language. What happened to the other 99.2%? All can't handle kanji? Not possible

Also of the 417, will 99% be washed out? What is the point of this program again?

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Actually, the furigana may help the examinees. There are a lot of medical terms, procedures and equipment that have difficult kanji combinations.

What is the point of this program again?

To hire qualified nurses. How can one be called "qualified" if they don't even understand what the doctor is saying, or what the medication label says?

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With an increasing proportion of educated Japanese having some skill in spoken English, maybe they could find some middle ground. Could they not employ these applicants in hospitals serving tourists and expats?

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This number does not include nurses from China, who have been taking the test in small numbers for the past couple of years, and passing at a rate of about 95%. They have somewhat of a built-in language advantage, at least in terms of reading and writing, but many come from nursing schools (4- and 5-year university programs) that also offer a Japanese language track, so that by the time they've arrived here for training specific to the nursing exam, most of the have already passed the JLPT Level 1. Since they are not on an "official" government program, however, their successes apparently don't count in the government's reckoning...

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417 seems like a low number to me.

Like Elvensilvan says, if the applicants can't speak or read the language sufficiently, they can't do the job. Can the hospitals/applicants work something out where they get paid less and do more menial work if the language skills are not up to scratch. By "menial" I mean the kind of stuff that won't hurt or kill people if they make a mistake. I would think this would free up other nurses to do work where language skills are necessary.

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The ministry decided to affix readings alongside difficult kanji characters for the 2012 exam in an effort to remedy this problem.

They should do that more often all over Japan. Would help out a lot of illiterate adults that never finished HS.

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@ReformedBasher "417 seems low"

Especially when you hear the estimated nursing care worker shortfall: "There are currently 1.4 million caregivers, but it is estimated that at least 900,000 more will be necessary by 2025 when many of Japan's baby boomers turn 75."

The difficulty of the exam has meant "the number of thrainees entering Japan from these two countries has fallen to less than one-third of its peak." (Both quotes from Thursday, Feb. 16 Yomiuri Shimbun)

The point here is that the jobs in highest demand are general caregivers for one generational demographic of elderly, not for foreign/expat patients or life and death emergency room cases as I've seen implied in the comments above.

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"thrainees" sounds like something from Beowulf. Should say "trainees."

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What a waste of time this program is!

Have the nurses sit exams so that they fail?

Meanwhile foreign nurses seek jobs in the US,UK etc and are welcomed with open arms!

Once these foreign nurses get into hospitals here there is no way that they will be given supervisory positions. Instead they will be given jobs at lower levels.

In addition each hospital they are assigned to will supplement their training as is dome with nurse trainees.

However, the fact of the matter is that Japanese nurses are quitting the profession in droves as there isn't provision made for any type of a lifestyle other than that of the job-this is the main reason nurses leave.

Treat Japanese nurses with more respect and then there wouldn't be a need to train and reject foreign nurses in the first place....

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The biggest roadblock to accepting more foreign nursing trainees is that the nursing homes for the elderly can not charge nursing service fees for the foreign trainees, but still have to pay them as much or more than regular workers.

That kind of penalty in which having trainees immediately cuts into nursing homes' budgets means bringing in 900,000 new nursing home workers over the next 13 years will be practically impossible.

Just to reiterate, these nurses are in demand at nursing homes, but the difficult exams and lack of reimbursement to the nursing homes are preventing more foreign nurses from becoming established here.

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Can buy the uniform in Donki for Y2K

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I was thinking more that if 99% of candidates can't manage to study the kanji, then the program is a fraud and failure to begin with. Medical kanji versions are apparently quite arcane for the learner. However, saying 99% of all candidates can't learn it is the crux of the matter, and I find incredible. All kanji I learned was in context so I can't see why 99% would fail it. Some would sure, but 99%? Makes no sense.

Real training on missing skills needs to exist, not PR on how 0.8% made it to a test. Of the 417 left, how many will be nurses? What an incredible attrition rate, as to be more like a zero pass test. PR only otherwise Irrelevant outcomes. Sadly as a result Japan will suffer.

Remember this is competing with nurses to USA, Canada, UK etc and won't have to go through this process at all. There is no reason to fail this miserably unless one is designing the program to do so intentionally.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a program with lots of dead ends. Meaning they don't really like to hire foreign nurses. Probably just for diplomatic relation reasons. For a non english speaking country like Japan, I don't know where this program lead foreign medical people wanted to work in Japan. I don't think, nursing applicants from foreign countries will pass the exams written in kanji etc... Even Japanese I know admitted having hard time reading kanji. Yes, this is a job that care for sick people and with a slight error in understanding and administering meds can be fatal. IMNO. if Japan wanted to help poor countries by employing their nationals, give them jobs that doesn't require 100% reading and writing Japanese as long as they can communicate and understand nippongo will be fine. I just can't understand why a country like Japan have 4 kinds of writtings. ( ji ) Kanji, hiragana, furigana, katakana, and romaji, but speak just one linggo nippongo.

Anyways, with the high unemployment and bad economy of Japan, IMHO help your national first.

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