For many Indonesian caregivers, hurdles are too high

Kyodo

Of the hundreds of Indonesian caregivers who have trained in Japan to be caregivers, nearly 1 in 3 who passed the tough exam this year as health workers for the elderly have returned to Indonesia.

Some who returned home complain of hurdles working in Japan, particularly with elder care agencies that hired them as apprentices.

Japanese scholars familiar with the issue say authorities need to examine the details of the program.

The government has accepted nurses and caregivers from Indonesia and the Philippines since 2008 to train and, once they pass the required qualifying exams, to work in Japan under economic partnership agreements.

The foreign caregivers are allowed to take qualifying exams after acquiring three years of working experience at an institution for the elderly.

According to the Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services, the government agency involved in recruiting overseas nurse and caregiver candidates, 35 of the 94 Indonesian caregiver candidates passed the first qualifying exams conducted under the program, held in January.

While 20 of the candidates who failed have decided to stay in Japan and have another go at the exams next year, about 50 Indonesian caregivers have returned home, including 10 who cleared the qualifying hurdle.

One of them is a woman in her 20s from Serang on the outskirts of Jakarta who found out she passed the exams after she flew back to Indonesia in late February.

Along with 103 other Indonesian caregivers, she was sent to Japan in August 2008 under the Indonesia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

After completing a six-month Japanese-language course, she was sent to a home for seniors in central Japan.

Just before the exam results were released, she said her supervisor told her that her work contract had been terminated.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, she said she asked her supervisor whether she could continue working at the facility at least until the exam results were released.

There was no answer from her employers, she said.

“There was no explanation about the contract or answer regarding my request to stay, either from my supervisor or from JICWELS,” she said, referring to the Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services.

She said she would have continued to work in Japan if her employers had asked her to stay.

Shun Ono, a professor at Seisen University familiar with issues involving overseas caregivers in Japan, faults miscommunication and lack of followup by the Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services for problems faced by Indonesian caregivers.

“The corporation has a department that handles public inquiries, but there have been not a few cases of miscommunication and lack of followup,” he said.

Ono said elder care agencies should examine if they are treating overseas caregivers correctly, while the welfare services corporation should see whether it has provided adequate guidance to the elder care facilities.

A total of 500 Indonesian caregivers have been invited to Japan as caregiver candidates, including 72 this fiscal year, according to the Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services.