The government decided Tuesday to allow nursing and care trainees from Indonesia and the Philippines to stay an additional year for further training and to give failed candidates another chance to sit their qualification exams to work in Japan under bilateral free trade agreements.
The Cabinet decision is aimed at giving potential nurses and caregivers a better chance of passing their exams and securing permission to work in the profession in Japan.
Pass rates have been low because of the language barrier. Both the Indonesian and Philippines governments have called for an extension.
It is the third time the government has decided to give an extra year to prospective health care workers from the Philippines and Indonesia. A one-year extension was given in 2011 and 2013, which a Japanese official said has helped boost the overall pass rate.
The latest extension applies to 93 nurses and caregivers from Indonesia who arrived in Japan in fiscal 2012 and 300 Filipino and Indonesian candidate nurses and caregivers who arrived in fiscal 2013.
In fiscal 2013, the pass rate for the nursing exam was 10.6 percent, while 36.3 percent of candidates passed the caregiver test.
The move will benefit those who failed the exams but were able to meet certain conditions such as having relatively good scores in the last qualifying exams they took.
Under the bilateral deals, the current length of stay for prospective nurses is three years and that of caregivers is four years. The candidates must pass the exams within the designated period or leave.
New candidates arriving in Japan take language lessons for six months as well as on-the-job training. Candidate nurses are given three chances to take the exams, but caregivers only one. An extension makes it possible for prospective nurses to sit the test four times and caregivers twice.
Around 2,200 trainees have so far come to Japan from the two Southeast Asian countries under the agreements.