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JAKARTA (Kyodo) News and e-mail messages from Indonesian nurses working in hospitals and nursing facilities in Japan have encouraged their colleagues to seek similar opportunities.

Dyana, 30, and Endah Trisnawati, 25, are among them. Last Friday, along with 300 other nurses, they took a competency test to qualify for jobs in Japan under the bilateral economic partnership agreement the two countries reached in 2007.

Last year, Trisnawati applied to be among the first batch of Indonesian nurses and caregivers sent to fill staff shortages at medical and nursing facilities in rapidly graying Japan.

Her documents were incomplete and her application was rejected. Disappointed, she had to put off her dream for a while.

Her friend, Asiana, however, was among the 208 Indonesian nurses and caregivers accepted by Japan. She arrived last August and three months later sent a message to Trisnawati urging her to try again.

Trisnawati, who speaks some English and Japanese, said Asiana told her she is very happy living and working in Japan.

“She faces some challenges, particularly cultural and language barriers, but little by little she should be able to adapt to her new environment,” Trisnawati said.

Since her childhood, Trisnawati has been obsessed with things Japanese. The nurse, who has worked for 4 1/2 years at an international hospital in Bekasi in the suburbs of Jakarta, loves “manga” (comics) and has always hoped that one day she will be able to visit the country.

News from Japan has also motivated fellow hopeful Dyana to seek work in Japan.

“I heard that our nurses have been welcomed and appreciated by the Japanese people, unlike other Indonesian migrant workers in the Middle East, who have been abused by their employers,” she said.

Dyana, who has been working as a nurse at a maternity hospital since 2002, is seeking work in Japan to learn something about the health business and save money to set up her own clinic in Indonesia.

“When I return to Indonesia, I want to apply my experiences and knowledge from Japan to open a clinic here,” she said.

During the Friday competency test, Dyana and Trisnawati tried to answer 180 questions in three hours.

Similar tests were also given last week in three provincial capitals — Medan in North Sumatra Province, Pekanbaru in Riau Province and Denpasar in Bali Province.

The test results will be announced Wednesday and interviews with Japanese facilities are expected by the end of next month.

Those who pass the competency tests and navigate other procedures will be included among 792 nurses and caregivers to be sent to Japan around November to work in hospitals and nursing facilities.

Japan has agreed to take in 1,000 nurses and other health workers each from Indonesia and the Philippines under bilateral economic partnership agreements.

Once accepted to work in Japan, the nurses and caregivers will study Japanese for four months in Jakarta and Bali from July and then two months in Japan.

Last year, the first batch of medical workers studied the language for six months in Japan.

It is unclear if Japan will take in more Indonesians beyond the two-year period as the Japanese Nursing Association and the Japan Association of Certified Care Workers have been lobbying the government to prioritize the employment of Japanese workers.

Critics fear accepting more workers from overseas could lead to deterioration in job conditions for Japanese staff, possibly including lower wages.

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