Who will care for the elderly?

Otaru, Hokkaido

Regarding Jun Hongo’s Jan. 9 article, “Foreign nurse success story has message for Japan: Open up“: Why did Japan bother to invite these poorly paid, overworked and under-appreciated nurses from Indonesia and the Philippines to work here.

I would encourage all of these medical professionals to seek employment in the United States or Europe, where their education, nursing skills and caring attitude would be far more appreciated.

Moreover, the racial, language and cultural barriers they might face would be a minor bump in the road by comparison. Salaries would be better too and the work schedule far more agreeable — dare I say humane?

In the very near future, Japan is going to need these foreign medical professionals, as its hospitals will be flooded with geriatric cases — that is, untold numbers of elderly who are unable to even walk or use the bathroom on their own.

Have you ever changed a geriatric diaper? I doubt that many of Japan’s modern, fashion-minded, narcissistic, native-born young ladies would be willing to give up their comfy leisure life of shopping and entertainment to work stressful long shifts in a woefully understaffed public hospital. There would be a terrible risk of breaking an expensively manicured fingernail, and starched white uniforms just aren’t in fashion this season.

Very likely many of these nurses from Indonesia and the Philippines have at least a high school level of fluency in English. So, what happened to the conversational English skills of all the Japanese medical personnel supposedly working alongside these foreign nurses? Didn’t they also study the gaijin language for six years in junior and senior high school?

In Europe, where the agreed-upon international medical language is English, there would be no language problem. Japan wants to be unique or, more to the point, xenophobic.

Apparently Japan would prefer to see its population grow grayer and grayer, rather than risk allowing even skilled immigrants into the land. Those immigrant “melting pots” that the West is so proud of aren’t for Japan. Japan had better lighten up.

robert mckinney
otaru, hokkaido

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.