Japan plans to accept more caregivers from three Southeast Asian countries that have free trade agreements with Tokyo to help address the national labor shortage, sources familiar with the matter said.
By easing some restrictions on caregivers from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, the government will allow more of those with strong proficiency in Japanese to work in Japan starting next April, the sources said Sunday.
Under current terms, Japan accepts up to 300 caregivers from each country per year. The government aims to treat those with high language proficiency separately from those groups.
The number who want to be caregivers in Japan has been increasing. For fiscal 2018 ending next March, there were 298 from Indonesia, 282 from the Philippines and 193 from Vietnam — all record highs.
As Japan grays it is expected to see a shortage of some 340,000 caregivers in 2025, when many baby boomers are expected to be 75 or older and in need of nursing care services, the sources said.
The bilateral FTAs with Japan took effect in fiscal 2008 with Indonesia, in fiscal 2009 with the Philippines and in fiscal 2014 with Vietnam.
Under the deals, about 4,300 people arrived to work in Japan. They are employed as caregivers for three years while studying for a national language examination that must be taken during the four-year period of stay. If they pass, they can continue to work here.