• Kyodo News

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About 110 Indonesian nurses and caregivers arrived in Japan on Saturday, seeking to pass the national qualification exam for jobs under the bilateral free-trade agreement.

Japan, a rapidly aging society, began accepting nurses and caregivers in 2008 from Indonesia and the Philippines, with which Japan struck a similar FTA, as national exam applicants.

About 70 Indonesian caregivers arrived at Narita airport and headed for training facilities in Yokohama. Some 40 Indonesian nurses arrived at Central Japan International Airport near Nagoya and moved to training facilities in Toyoda, Aichi Prefecture.

For about two months before coming to Japan, they participated in training sessions for the Japanese language and lifestyle. They will start taking classes at the Japanese facilities Monday, seeking to pass the national exam while working at nursing-care facilities.

With their arrival, more than 1,000 nurses and caregivers from Indonesia and the Philippines have come to Japan as applicants to the health care program under the free-trade accords.

Three nurses — two Indonesian and one Filipino — passed Japan’s national nursing qualification exam conducted last February, becoming the first successful applicants under the program.

As of July, 33 had given up trying to pass the qualifying exam and returned home.

Kanji and technical terms used in the exam are thought to pose a considerable hurdle for such foreign applicants.

Under the program, foreign nurses are required to return to their home countries if they fail to pass Japan’s nursing qualifying exam within three years. Caregivers also need to clear Japan’s qualifying exam within four years.

In the 2008 and 2009 fiscal years through next March, Japan accepted 570 health care workers from Indonesia — 277 nurses and 293 caregivers — as applicants to the program.

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