The first 95 applicants for the health ministry's care worker training program took the written certification exam on Sunday.
The health ministry said that the 94 Indonesians and one Filipino, who arrived in 2008 and 2009, are allowed to stay in Japan for four years in total, but that in order to sit for the tests, they must have accrued three years' worth of on-the-job experience during their training period, TBS reported. As a result, Sunday marked their first and last opportunity to sit the exam.
The foreign care worker scheme was launched in an attempt to meet the shortage of care givers for Japan's growing elderly population.
The written test comprised 12 different subjects, including advanced kanji, the ministry said. Besides the written test, there is a further practical component to the test in March, after which the results will be announced on arch 28, TBS said.
The scheme has been criticized by some as being unrealistically demanding on students, who are expected to achieve a high level of fluency in Japanese despite having little time to study.
If candidates do not pass the exam, they have to return to their home countries.© Japan Today