• Kyodo

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The health ministry released a draft plan Friday to include nursing care under the technical intern training program for foreigners to help increase foreign care workers and resolve related labor shortages in Japan.

The draft plan for consideration by a panel of experts comes after the government revised its economic growth strategy last June to study the move and other growth-promoting measures.

The existing technical intern training program is designed for Japanese companies and business groups to accept young foreign workers to enable the transfer of industrial and other skills.

The draft plan calls for adding nursing care to skills under the program from April 2016 or later on condition that foreign interns have some Japanese language proficiency and nursing care expertise.

Such foreign interns would have to undergo special training before working at nursing care facilities and would be limited to 10 percent of full-time care workers at each facility with up to 30 workers, the draft plan said.

Japan currently accepts nursing care workers from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam under bilateral free-trade agreements. The candidates must sit for certification tests. But the number of certified care workers from these countries has been limited to around 240 because of the language barrier.

Japan’s nursing care sector has been plagued with chronic labor shortages, prompting growing calls for proactive acceptance of foreign care workers.

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