National

Foreign caregiver trainees to receive financial aid for Japanese lessons

Kyodo

The labor ministry will set up a financial aid system to help foreign caregiver trainees learn Japanese and acquire technical knowledge, officials said Monday.

Foreign people are expected to make up for the labor shortage in Japan’s caregiver industry, but the job requires greater proficiency in Japanese than many other jobs do. To entice more non-Japanese to work here, the government aims to improve their environment for studying the language.

To fund the program, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is requesting ¥1.3 billion for fiscal 2019 starting in April.

According to the ministry, facilities accepting foreign trainees will be entitled to receive the subsidy at the prefectural level. The amount of assistance per recipient will likely be decided when the Cabinet compiles the draft budget at year’s end.

Foreign caregivers will become eligible by attending Japanese schools and buying related materials needed to take the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test. Entities that dispatch Japanese teachers to caregiving facilities will also qualify for the aid.

Foreign trainees need to understand basic Japanese equivalent to the N4 level set by the five-level JLPT when they set foot in Japan. N1 is the highest level and N3 must be attained in their second year. But the ministry is also considering remedies to let second-year trainees who failed the N3 test stay.

The government is aiming to start accepting more foreign workers in April by introducing a new residence status in the nursing care, agriculture, construction, lodging, shipbuilding and other sectors with particularly serious labor shortages.

Japan launched an internship training program for foreigners in 1993 to help transfer skills to developing countries. It is often criticised at home and abroad as a cover for importing cheap labor.

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