Only 30 foreigners pass nursing exam despite extra help

Kyodo

The health ministry said Monday that 30 nurse candidates from the Philippines and Indonesia passed the qualification test in February needed to be nurses in Japan.

Their success represents a passing rate of 9.6 percent for foreigners, down from 11.3 percent the previous year. The overall pass rate was 88.8 percent.

This dip in this year’s rate came despite efforts by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry to make it easier for foreign applicants to succeed. This included giving foreigners 30 percent more time to complete the test than their Japanese counterparts, and the complimentary transliteration of kanji into hiragana, which eliminates the need to memorize the characters in the first place.

The applicants who passed came to Japan between 2009 and 2011 to take advantage of bilateral free-trade accords that provide the opportunity to work as nurses and care workers in Japan, if they can overcome the language barrier within a certain time.

The ministry said Monday that it will launch a measure in April to persuade nursing care facilities to hire care worker candidates from the two countries.

While certified care workers at nursing care facilities are paid with nursing care money provided to them by local governments, the facilities must pay any foreign candidates accepted as trainees from their own funds.

To ease that burden, the ministry will allow the facilities to apply for nursing care rewards for trainees who have stayed in Japan for six months or longer or achieved some fluency in Japanese since their arrival.

Japan began accepting care worker candidates from Indonesia in 2008. It accepted 104 in 2008, and a combined 379 Indonesians and Filipinos in 2009. Since 2010, however, the annual tally has remained below 150.