The government is considering holding the first skills tests for foreign nationals hoping to work in the Japan’s nursing sector under new visa categories in Vietnam and the Philippines, sources with knowledge of the matter said Tuesday.

The sector is expected to attract the greatest number of workers from abroad under the so-called type one visa category, which will be granted to those with certain professional skills. The new visa category, slated to become available from April and covering 14 industries, is aimed at accepting more foreign workers in Japan amid serious labor shortages.

Skills tests for three of the 14 sectors — the nursing, restaurant and hotel industries — are set to begin in April.

Tests for the restaurant industry will be held in Japan and in Vietnam on a trial basis, the sources said.

Tests for the hotel industry will take place in Japan. The government also hopes to launch tests for the sector abroad as soon as possible, the sources said.

The government picked the countries as the test venues based on the nationalities of those who are working or have worked in Japan under the country’s existing technical trainee program, as well as requests from industry groups, according to the sources.

Skills tests for the other 11 industries, including construction, will start in May or later.

To obtain the type one visa, applicants are required to pass technical tests and have a certain level of Japanese language skills. Language proficiency tests newly created by the government will be conducted in a total of nine countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Ahead of the launch of the language tests, Japan will exchange documents with the governments of these countries stipulating measures to shut out rogue labor brokers.

The nursing sector, which is expected to accept up to 60,000 workers over five years under the type one visa category, will conduct an independent language test to assess applicants’ understanding of technical and other specific language required for the profession.

Some nursing personnel from Vietnam and the Philippines are already working here based on bilateral economic partnership agreements between Japan and the Southeast Asian countries.

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