The government will ease its rules for the nursing and caregiver qualification exam, giving foreign candidates more time to prepare for the test.
Japan opened the way for non-Japanese people, including Indonesians and Filipinos, to work as nurses and caregivers in 2008, to address the shortage of medical care staff. The system, under which they have on-the-job training while studying, was introduced as part of the Japan-Indonesian Economic Partnership Agreement.
However, studying for the tests while nursing proved difficult for many candidates. According to the health ministry, last year, only 19 out of 700 Indonesian and Filipino applicants passed the exams and were allowed to stay in Japan, Fuji TV reported.
Health Minister Yoko Komiyama said she would not like to see anyone give up their desire to work as a nurse in Japan because of the language barrier.
In order to prevent future applicants from being dissuaded by the language barrier, Komiyama announced that time frames are to be relaxed and hiragana will be printed above the kanji characters on the test paper to help candidates understand the questions.
The ministry also announced that a committee is to monitor candidates and advise on potential changes to the test. The new system is scheduled to come into effect from next year, Fuji reported.