Nursing candidates get online help

A website that assists foreign students studying Japanese has been updated to help nurse and caregiver candidates from Indonesia and the Philippines learn to read kanji Chinese characters and what Japanese medical and care terms mean.

A group led by Yoshiko Kawamura, a professor of Japanese language teaching at Tokyo International University, has added Indonesian and Tagalog versions and about 2,000 nursing care terms to its Reading Tutor Web Dictionary (

When a Japanese sentence including the kanji for kaigo is input and the dictionary button clicked, the Indonesian version produces merawat for the word, while the Tagalog version shows pag-aalaga. The English version gives “nursing care.”

Hundreds of Indonesians and Filipinos are working as trainees under Japan’s economic partnership agreements with their countries. Nurses must pass the Japanese state exam in three years and caregivers in four years to continue working in this country, but the Japanese language stands in their way.

The program started with Indonesia in 2008 and the Philippines in 2009. Only three nurses have passed the state exam so far.