Japanese language a barrier for Indonesian and Filipino nurses

The Japanese health ministry has rejected a plan to make it easier for Indonesian and Filipino nurses to qualify for work in Japan.

A 2008 Economic Partnership Agreement allows a number of Indonesian and Filipino nurses and caregivers to train and work in Japan. But the compulsory national exam and the level of language the overseas workers must pass is for most too difficult – no Indonesian nurses passed last year’s exam.

“The Japanese Nursing Association’s Shinobu Ogawa says a dependence on anything from overseas is risky and therefore a policy seeking foreign healthcare providers will never be supported by the Japanese people. Medical sociologist Dr Yuko Hirano has followed the success of the foreign worker program since the deal was signed in 2008. She says the JNA attitude reflects wider community values, which makes the obstacles for the Indonesian and Filipino workers even higher.”

“[A] huge argument’s been going on here.  And many of those people are saying it’s too early for the Japanese society to acommodate those foreigners because we have a still strong stereotype against those foreign workers in Japan, easily connected to the idea that if you introduce the foreign labour to the health sector, then the health sector, or health-related labour will be spoiled.”