• Kyodo News

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A health ministry panel on Tuesday compiled a set of changes in the national nursing examination that include providing English translations to explain difficult Japanese terms for foreigners.

The measures will be reflected in the next test in February, panel members said.

More than 1,000 applicants have come to Japan from Indonesia and the Philippines under bilateral free-trade agreements, but the passage rate for the exam has been low because the kanji and technical terms used in the exam are believed to pose a high hurdle for foreign examinees.

Similar steps are to be taken in the national examination for caregivers.

For medical and nursing terms, translations will be provided for disease names such as diabetes so applicants who are familiar with English can better understand Japanese, the panel members said.

But the panel decided not to rephrase technical terms in Japanese due to fear it could spark confusion in actual usage if different words are used to express them, the members said.

For general terms, difficult Japanese words will be rephrased as plain expressions. Sentences and phrases difficult to restate will have hiragana next to the kanji characters or have subjects and predicates specified, they said.

“Next year’s national exam will be considerably different from the previous tests,” Shinya Adachi, parliamentary secretary for the ministry, said at a news conference Monday.

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