47 foreign trainees pass nursing exam

A total of 47 Indonesian and Filipino nurses passed this year’s national licensing examination for nurses under a project to accept foreign trainees, the health ministry announced Monday.

Under the project based on economic partnership agreements starting in fiscal 2008, a total of 572 trainees have taken part in the program. Of them, only 19 passed the exam through last year. This year, 415 trainees took the exam, and 11.3 percent of them passed.

The pass rate for the exam has gone up 7.3 percentage points from the previous year and reached double-digits for the first time. But, it is still far lower than the 90 percent average pass rate of all examinees.

As the low pass rate for foreign trainees has been seen as a problem, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoko Komiyama said Friday the government plans to take special measures for them, such as including hiragana for each kanji character in the test and giving extra test time, starting next year.

The foreign trainees were originally scheduled to pass the exam within three years, working at medical institutions as assistant nurses. If they cannot pass the test in that period, they would lose their eligibility to stay in Japan.

As a special measure, however, the trainees, who failed the exam and whose eligibility for stay is about to expire, have been allowed to stay an extra year from last year if they attained a certain score on past exams.

Eight of 27 trainees who were allowed the extension of their stay last year passed the exam.