Japan approves residency for foreign caregiver students
A law allowing foreign students at nursing care schools to apply for residency in Japan after being certified as caregivers will come into full force this year to plug the Asian country's need for caregivers, a report on Kyodo News said.
The report said the amendment to Japan's current immigration law was made to simplify requirements from previous agreements between the country and the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
Prospective caregivers previously had to have at least three years of work experience and pass the national qualification exam in their fourth year before they can obtain resident status in Japan.
Kazuhiko Mashiko, a senior official of the Japan Association of Training Institutions for Certified Care Workers, said accepting foreign students to Japan "will also be part of international contribution."
Junya Ishimoto, chairman of the Japan Association of Certified Care Workers, said, “So long as (aspirants) obtain qualification, their nationality does not matter."
The report noted that the number of foreign students in nursing care schools increased seven-fold from 34 in 2011 to 257 in 2016.
About 15 more students from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Nepal enrolled at the Japan Welfare Education College in Tokyo last spring, while the Kansai College of Social Welfare in Osaka will welcome 30 students this year.
Nursing care schools said the increase in foreign students made up for the decline of Japanese enrollees as Japan-based students only comprise 46.4 percent of the quota or 7,752 as of April 2016.
In spite of the new rule, qualifying as caregivers remain elusive for foreign students due to language and cultural barriers. The Kyodo News reported that only 50.9 percent of foreign examinees passed the national qualification exam in 2015. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News