The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Tuesday it will extend the stay of nursing and caregiver trainees from Indonesia and the Philippines for an extra year to allow those who failed the qualifying exam another chance to pass it.
Many candidates have had trouble passing the Japanese-language exam, the ministry said. Only 30 out of 311 trainees passed the exam this year, the Nikkei reported Tuesday.
In 2013, the ministry made some concessions to give Indonesians and Filipinos a better chance of passing the exam. They were given 30% longer to complete the test and hiragana character readings were provided above all of the kanji on the test paper.
Japan's Economic Partnership Agreement is a bilateral free-trade accord that offers non-Japanese applicants the opportunity to work as nurses and caregivers in Japan, if they can overcome the language barrier during the training period. However, analysts say that although Japanese care workers at nursing care facilities are paid by local governments, facilities must pay any foreign candidates accepted as trainees from their own funds, disincentivizing the employment of non-Japanese workers.
Japan began accepting care worker applicants from Indonesia in 2008. In the first year of the program, 104 non-Japanese passed the exams, followed by 379 in 2009. Since then, the annual total has remained below 150.© Japan Today