• Kyodo

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A total of 78 people from the Philippines and Indonesia have passed the caregiver certification exam for fiscal 2014, the welfare ministry said Thursday.

Japan is trying to get more foreign workers to work in the nursing-care industry to solve a labor shortage being caused largely by its declining birthrate and aging population.

The successful candidates — 47 Indonesians and 31 Filipinos — accounted for 44.8 percent of the 174 people who sat the exam.

Applicants are required to have at least three years of experience working at nursing facilities in Japan before taking the test, which is administered in Japanese, according to the economic partnership agreements Tokyo concluded with each country.

The pass rate is a record high and up considerably from the 36.3 percent pass rate in fiscal 2013, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said. With Japanese applicants included, the pass rate was 61.0 percent.

The government has taken various steps to make the exam easier for foreign applicants to pass, including by allowing them to stay longer in Japan for study, offering Japanese lessons and even extending the testing time.

A total of around 1,500 people from the two countries and Vietnam have come to Japan to take the annual exam. The Vietnamese candidates began staying in Japan in fiscal 2014.

In a separate national qualification exam for nurses, the pass rate among the three Southeast Asian nations dropped to 7.3 percent in fiscal 2014 from 10.6 percent the previous year. The rate for all examinees stood at 90 percent.

A total of 357 people from the three countries took the test, but only 26 — 11 from Indonesia, 14 from the Philippines and one from Vietnam — got qualified.

“We will analyze (the drop in the pass rate for foreigners) and re-examine how to offer future training,” a health ministry official said Wednesday.

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