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Language skills remain major concern for foreign nursing care workers

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Language skills will always be a problem that foreigners have in any new country.

Part of the problem with many Japanese politicians and "elitists" here who set the barriers so high, is their stupid belief that the "culture" and "language" are one, and that there is no way a "foreigner" can learn the language well enough to actually live and work here!

These are the one's who are literally shocked when they hear a foreigner speak "their" language and look for some excuse to explain it away. Far too many as well have what I like to call it "gaijin complex", they feel threatened by any foreigner who can communicate in their language.

9 ( +18 / -9 )

177people, government plan 5,000 so that means 4823 people have not grasped the opportunity to work long hours for little renumeration and study a language that is only spoken in one geographical area. Think a panel of experts might be needed to sort this one out!

19 ( +20 / -1 )

the government has said it expects to accept 5,000 foreign workers in the nursing sector the first year and up to 60,000 over five years.

too many burdensome requirements and a language barrier compared to other countries

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Given history, although most people wouldn't be, but who wants to take care of some people who were alive and culpable from those times? This question is always avoided

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Language skills remain major concern for foreign nursing care workers

How about the low salary of 280000 Yen on average per month. Seriously, $2480 a month in Japan isn't that really that much, even if you're splitting the rent and utilities with a roommate or a spouse. Maybe the low salary of a nurse in Japan is main reason why most folks pass it over as a career, when could earn just as much working as a shift manager at a McDonalds with less headaches and stress.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

Zzzzz

Tired of this nonsense after so many years.

Japan, the world won’t bend for us, that’s not how things work. Get with the times, or deal with the consequences.

YOU don’t need to speak fluent Japanese to care for someone. Let’s get real, Japan wants cheap labor because their young people would never do these kinds of jobs.

Its Japan’s fault that they didn’t prep for this when anyone could see it coming.

Is it everyone else’s fault they don’t speak Japanese or is it kinda also that here, most people can’t deal with working with anything besides their closed off system.

16 ( +19 / -3 )

Is it everyone else’s fault they don’t speak Japanese or is it kinda also that here, most people can’t deal with working with anything besides their closed off system.

This! ^ ... is the main problem why integration is so very difficult in Japan. The attitudes of many locals. You can't blame them with the constant brainwashing and bombardment from above in all facets of life.

The goldfish knows not of the sea...

14 ( +15 / -1 )

YOU don’t need to speak fluent Japanese to care for someone

While I'd say caregivers and nurses require greater skills than factory workers or farmhands, this is generally true. IMO the language requirements serve as a useful cudgel to hang over the heads of these workers.

Look, they took care of our old people for 5 years, something we seem uninterested in doing ourselves, and now we've learned they haven't mastered this abstruse keigo or the 2000 kanji that every Japanese using in a given day. Show them the door!

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Japan will never adapt to the modern world where most people speak one or more foreign languages. Only 12% of Japanese adults have an intermediate proficiency level in 'any' foreign language. Only 8% have a TOEIC score above 600 despite studying English for 6-10 years throughout secondary and tertiary education. They are blaming the foreigner's lack of Japanese language skills when, in fact, it is the Japanese' lack of foreign language skills causing the problem. Of course, one cannot expect the patients to learn a foreign language, but there is no reason why the Japanese nursing staff cannot learn a foreign language. After all, it is the foreign staff doing Japan a favor by filling these positions. They expect these young people achieve a JLPT2 (or higher) level of proficiency to work for a pittance and clean bedpans. Then, they will boot them out of Japan as soon as their 'gifted' visa has expired. The first influx of Indonesian nursing staff 5 or 6 years ago resulted in 90% failing the language test and those who did pass the test very quickly quit their jobs and went back to Indonesia due to the ridiculous workload and @rejudiced treatment. This whole program is just a half-assed attempt at securing foreign workers and destined to fail because of Japanese' lack of foreign language skills and horrid labor practices.

18 ( +21 / -3 )

@Disillusioned nice.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Does not say any thing about other industries. Even for care givers, do not see much relaxation.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well if Japan taught a dual language system in schools like I was taught then it really wouldn’t be a problem. But I guess their way of looking at it is “if you want to work here learn Japanese”. Those desperate enough I guess will.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

How about the low salary of 280000 Yen on average per month. Seriously, $2480 a month in Japan isn't that really that much, even if you're splitting the rent and utilities with a roommate or a spouse. Maybe the low salary of a nurse in Japan is main reason why most folks pass it over as a career, when could earn just as much working as a shift manager at a McDonalds with less headaches and stress.

Its quite a bit, I dont see why people think it isnt a livable wage, there are people making less than this who live in Tokyo. Japanese companies are based on hierarchy, as in the longer you work there the higher your wage gets. Although nursing and nurses are not necessarily the same, they still receive quite a bit more than your average 1st year worker.

The thing to remember about jobs in Japan is not just the salary, but also the ceiling for that job. You MIGHT make just as much as a full time McDonalds worker, but you're never going to get more than that.

and now we've learned they haven't mastered this abstruse keigo or the 2000 kanji that every Japanese using in a given day. Show them the door!

Its not that difficult if you really try. Its like a year of studying.

They expect these young people achieve a JLPT2 (or higher) level of proficiency to work for a pittance and clean bedpans.

Generally when you're caring for humans you should at least know the medical terminology in the language that said patient speaks. JLPT2 is a bare minimum and, in my opinion, is too lenient.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

I was not a caregiver in Japan, but I was an IT consultant. Despite holding JLPT N2, my Japanese employer wouldn't put me on projects with Japanese clients, only with foreign businesses operating in Japan. I guess not even the JLPT 2 is enough for a respectable bank or insurance company.

I tell you what though, if you're foreign and want to work in a restaurant, conbini, or kiosk for 750 yen / hr, the Japanese will snatch you right up even if you've only been in Japan for a week and can't spell konnichi-wa.

I hope the politicians, businessmen, and hospital owners realize the oxymoron they've put themselves in. They want people with a skillset that simple doesn't exist, and can't seem to find a way provide a path to get there!

9 ( +13 / -4 )

I go to a care home 2-3 times a week.without Japanese speakers the residents will deterate and die.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

@Cricky

177people, government plan 5,000 so that means 4823 people have not grasped the opportunity to work long hours for little renumeration and study a language that is only spoken in one geographical area. Think a panel of experts might be needed to sort this one out!

If you read the article correctly, you'd realize that starting from April people can apply. The 177 foreigner caregivers is the CURRENT amount in the country. It has nothing to do with the relaxation of the law of the allowance of 5000 under the new visa category.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Another problem is that you need flexibility in the Japanese you learn. You will need to have a basic fluency in Hyojungo standard Japanese for staff meetings, but then you will want to be able to understand the local dialect if you work outside of Tokyo.

When I was in hospital here I was surprised at the heavy dialect used by aged patients, especially males, who expected to be understood and waited on hand and foot as if by their wives. Often a single grunted sound, picked up miraculously by visiting family. Some of the Japanese nursing staff replied in kind, a sort of coded language, but I could hear others gently asking the patient to repeat.

How quickly will such overseas staff become professional in standard Japanese, yes, but also able to joke along in local lingo?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

How about the low salary of 280000 Yen on average per month. Seriously, $2480 a month in Japan isn't that really that much, even if you're splitting the rent and utilities with a roommate or a spouse. Maybe the low salary of a nurse in Japan is main reason why most folks pass it over as a career, when could earn just as much working as a shift manager at a McDonalds with less headaches and stress.

Take home pay of 280,000 per month, depending upon the location, is DECENT!

If you are talking about Tokyo, forget it, but then, these people are going to be needed outside of Tokyo and the cost of living is far cheaper. Tokyo needs to be taken out of the equation when talking about income statistics here in Japan. The average salary in Tokyo is over 6,000,000 per year! Nearly 3 times that of lower income prefectures like Okinawa!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

PS To joke along, but also to sing along, to get patients cooperative.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Goodlucktoyou: I go to a care home 2-3 times a week.without Japanese speakers the residents will deterate and die.

Yes, I've heard even if they breathe the same air as us, their heart stops. Not to worry though, young people here are eager to be of assistance. Or, wait, robots, that's the ticket!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

@ksteer - Generally when you're caring for humans you should at least know the medical terminology in the language that said patient speaks. JLPT2 is a bare minimum and, in my opinion, is too lenient.

JLPT2 is too lenient? So, you expect these young people to have a near native level of proficiency in Japanese to clean bedpans for under ¥250,000 per month? That is exactly why this program will fail.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

ksteer,

This stupid idea has ALREADY been tried and to say it failed miserably seems like you are making a +ve comment on the situation

Bottom line, if strict Japanese abilities are a requirement there is NO WAY IN HELL they will attract any suckers in any sort of quantity

AINT HAPPENIN!!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

And there is no way J-companies are going to promoter these foreigners in any meaningful way over time...…….so the golden arches may well be better.

But I suspect the number of foreigners to Japan will decline over time, at least the ones thinking of learning the lingo etc,

Japan just isn't worth the squeeze!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

JLPT is not an indicator of whether someone is at a level with which to meet with clients. Their ability to communicate effectively while speaking in Japanese is what matters. Someone can have passed JLPT and still not be an effective communicator.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Just standard Japanese(Keigo is the one) should work wherever you go, whatever you do. No need to spend time and money to learn Sonkei-go, Kenjyou-go , absolutely no need for casual/dialects(which you don't learn at school anyway).

For those who may or may not know, average monthly salary of Japanese fresh college graduates before misc, deductions is around 270000/month Junior College/Special School graduates 235000/month Highschool graduates 215000/month.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Someone can have passed JLPT and still not be an effective communicator.

Just like the Eiken, but the Japanese are high on "exams" and "certifications", so it you got one, you get the money!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

JLPT2 is too lenient? So, you expect these young people to have a near native level of proficiency in Japanese to clean bedpans for under ¥250,000 per month?

No, they need near native fluency to handle medications and emergency situations.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

It's as if the Japanese want this system to fail. Why bother inviting foreign nurses?

Someone can have passed JLPT and still not be an effective communicator.

That's true. I passed JLPT1 years ago, and my Japanese is still awful!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

JLPT is not an indicator of whether someone is at a level with which to meet with clients. Their ability to communicate effectively while speaking in Japanese is what matters. Someone can have passed JLPT and still not be an effective communicator.

I agree! To have the textbook grammar and kanji recognition to pass N1 or N2 starting from zero could take 2-3+ years of dedicated full time study (or having a background in another Far East language). But I've watched many people become conversational in a year when they are immersed. I think they ought to just do away with levels N1 through N5 and make a scale score like the TOIEC does.

Besides, the JLPT doesn't even examine speaking ability! Nurses or care-takers don't need to know the kanji for samurai or how the 10 conjugations of how to say "I must" in order to do their job.

After all, there will still be Japanese supervisors on staff!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@Disillusioned

Spot on.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If patient is traumatized or has dementure, likely as not they would prefer their own L1. This is Japan so L1 likely is Japanese.

Institutions (hospitals, other service providers, bureaucracy, politicians) manipulating the language requirements is relevant to provision of service in the first place, but not as important is dealing with responsibilities and tasks at, say, the bedside.

Care givers (medical staff, others) can have all the skills, knowledge and compassion in the world. But unless their communication is adequate in the end those things mean very little.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Of course, one cannot expect the patients to learn a foreign language

Probably a good use case for the utility language Esperanto, of which there are many clubs in Japan. Only need 100-200 hours not decades of useless institutional instruction. Then both the care giver and care receiver can at least communicate. Depends how far gone someone is

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Might also be a good use case to learn Esperanto in the general population now while they are relatively younger than those in homes. Such that when their time comes to be cared for, it will be easier for the care giver to learn Esperanto as well. That way thousands of hours of instruction are not wasted, nurses don't run away since the language failure rate would be non existent, and everyone can get what they want. The power of a 100-200 hour utility language

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

They solved the problem in the MIddle East, where thousands of expats from around the world provided healthcare to mainly non-English speaking Arab patients by using interpreters! A number of the expats also learned enough Arabic to deal directly with patients, and some even became good enough that they taught basic Arabic to their colleagues.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Unlike factory workers who often engage in simple routine work, care givers need much better language skills to communicate with and understand the needs and feelings of elderly people. It’s a bad idea to bring in foreign workers just to fill the manpower shortage. Raise the wages of care workers and thousands of licensed Japanese care givers would the workforce.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I think they ought to just do away with levels N1 through N5 and make a scale score like the TOIEC does.

The JETRO test does that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

for the downvoters, I work for hospitals and also spend a great deal of time in a care home. There are only three factors that extend care home residents life and happiness. Communication, stimulation based on their cultural heritage and diet. A desperate Vietnamese or Indian person can probably not provide any. Then there is speaking the local dialect...

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Only three or four commentators have stressed the importance of communication with the nursing home residents around which the whole system revolves; they have to be worth at least 50% of the equation.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@goodlucktoyou, no one's disputing that. Reality is, Japan desperately needs foreigners to look after its elderly. Beggars can't be choosers.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Long before all of us were born Japan decided to isolate itself both culturally and linguistically. Very self sufficient. I know another country not far away with similar thinking. That thinking is OK if you’re always in control. No ones an island. Too late for Japan to realize this. They now have to accept what’s coming, like it or not.

BTW, I kind of blame McArthur for not making Japan more international. At least he should have imposed English as a second official language, much like Spanish in the US. Japan would be a different nation today.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

In-house solutions, have Japanese do the work will only make things more expensive in this land that can no longer can afford any extra costs. Also, I’ve met nurses that don’t want to do ‘basic’ work because it’s too dirty. Poor old folks are stuck.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

CruisinJapanToday  09:56 am JST

I was not a caregiver in Japan, but I was an IT consultant. Despite holding JLPT N2, my Japanese employer wouldn't put me on projects with Japanese clients, only with foreign businesses operating in Japan. I guess not even the JLPT 2 is enough for a respectable bank or insurance company.

I tell you what though, if you're foreign and want to work in a restaurant, conbini, or kiosk for 750 yen / hr, the Japanese will snatch you right up even if you've only been in Japan for a week and can't spell konnichi-wa.

I hope the politicians, businessmen, and hospital owners realize the oxymoron they've put themselves in. They want people with a skillset that simple doesn't exist, and can't seem to find a way provide a path to get there!

I think this is the issue that most people have, foreigners and Japanese. Having a certification in something doesn't mean you are capable of using it. Having gone to a Japanese university, lived in Japan for going on 5 years, and consistently strived to improve my Japanese I don't even hold a JLPT certification, however I constantly get told by my co-workers I speak better Japanese than most of our clients, know keigo fluently, read and write fluently, and am constantly working with Japanese clients, BY MYSELF. (Im also white in case you're wondering).

Holding a certification in JLPT provides literally zero information on how well you can actually speak, people need to realize that its not something to be proud of. I know a few hundred Chinese students here in Japan that all hold JLPT1 but lack even a morsel of communication skills in Japanese.

Its not a skillset that doesn't exist, its a skillset that is required for the job at hand and not a particularly difficult one to learn. If the wellbeing of a human being is going to be in your hands, you better know all those obscure Japanese characters on those medical bottles, and you better be able to understand when a 78 year old person with no teeth ATTEMPTS to tell you what pain they have. Thats the job, take it or leave it.

The very fact that people are getting upset about the (realistically better pay than most people in Japan) pay, and the language requirements just shows how many disillusioned or "otherwise don't know the real world in Japan" people on JT there are...

8 ( +11 / -3 )

How many Kids back home in the UK speak more than 1 language fluently (ignoring the non natives ) ? I think Japan is doing quite well, with its English Language teaching, and yes, there's always room for improvement.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

With the aging population, and all that, what percentage of eldery will be non-Japanese in a few years, and what Language skill sets will be required by the Care givers... ? English / Japanese only ?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

For many foreigners who work in some glitzy office in the southern 23 wards, the idea that you need Japanese to communicate with Japanese customers/patients must come as a brutal revelation.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

YOU don’t need to speak fluent Japanese to care for someone.

Speaking as a nurse, yes you do, both written and verbal fluency is essential. You can't provide care for a person if you can't communicate. Too many people see nursing/caring as merely wiping bums and taking temperatures. These people are totally wrong in that opinion.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Just speaking with a nurse in Japan and asked what the most usual job was and the reply was ‘taking patients to the bathroom’

There you have it...

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

The market will work its magic and force these nursing homes out of business in short time. No one except a fool would send their loved ones to a place where no one speaks the language. What a joke

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Language skills are a major concern for most Japanese, not really for foreigners. Why don't they fix that problem?

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Time for this culture to take a reality pill and realize that English is the accepted international language of choice.  If Japan could pull its head out of its own "bleep" and make English an official second language, then all of this barrier bs wouldn't be an issue.  So many other countries have realized this long ago and have taken the necessary steps to be part of the global community.  Things will never change in this country as long as the Meiji Era thinking ojisans are running the show.

S

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

 If Japan could pull its head out of its own "bleep" and make English an official second language, then all of this barrier bs wouldn't be an issue. So many other countries have realized this long ago and have taken the necessary steps to be part of the global community.  

Pray tell, which countries have made English an "official second language?" France? Nope, official only French. Germany? Nope, official only German. Surely you will be able to name a few since you said there are so many other countries who have done this.

Please name 5 countries with a similar situation to Japan who have adopted English as an official language despite having an established native language.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@disillulsioned

100% spot on. They will still be playing the same "cant speaku engrish" 50 years from now, nothing ever changes.

When a Japanese wags their finger at me and ask "Nihongo wakaru" I just reply with "Do you speak English" the answer is always no and they start acting shameful because they worry others are watching. Im like, if you cant speak English, then this conversation is going nowhere. Works every time.

I dont think gaijin are trying to change the cultural make up of japan, I know Im not, (at this point, could care less about any of it) but at least learn English, so you can communicate with the rest of the world.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

100% spot on. They will still be playing the same "cant speaku engrish" 50 years from now, nothing ever changes.

When a Japanese wags their finger at me and ask "Nihongo wakaru" I just reply with "Do you speak English" the answer is always no and they start acting shameful because they worry others are watching. Im like, if you cant speak English, then this conversation is going nowhere. Works every time.

I dont think gaijin are trying to change the cultural make up of japan, I know Im not, (at this point, could care less about any of it) but at least learn English, so you can communicate with the rest of the world.

Only if those people from south/south-east Asia for nursing jobs speak fluent English

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan will never adapt to the modern world where most people speak one or more foreign languages. Only 12% of Japanese adults have an intermediate proficiency level in 'any' foreign language. Only 8% have a TOEIC score above 600 despite studying English for 6-10 years throughout secondary and tertiary education. They are blaming the foreigner's lack of Japanese language skills when, in fact, it is the Japanese' lack of foreign language skills causing the problem. 

Those who stayed in Japan at least 6-10years and have no problem whatsoever to write/say your posts like the above in Japanese, please upvote me.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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