Diet to open door to foreign nurses, care workers

HDR Japan | 17 April 2008

Diet to open door to foreign nurses, care workers

The Diet is set to approve an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Indonesia, which will open the door to foreign nurses and care workers for the first time in history, government officials said.

The House of Representatives passed the EPA between Japan and Indonesia at a plenary session Thursday afternoon with the support of the ruling coalition and the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan. The House of Councillors is also poised to approve the accord by the end of this month.

Japan and Indonesia will negotiate details of the plan and the first group of Indonesian care workers and nurses is expected to come to Japan in July at the earliest.

Japan accepts foreign university professors and other professionals, but had previously closed its doors to foreign care workers.

Japan allows foreign nurses who have a Japanese license to work at Japanese medical institutions for up to seven years for vocational training. However, few foreign nurses have so far worked in Japan.

Under the bilateral EPA, Japan will accept 400 nurses and 600 care workers who meet certain conditions such as graduating from high education institutions and completing certain vocational training. The government will issue special visas for up to three-years to Indonesian nurses and four-year visas to care workers.

Indonesian nurses and care workers are supposed to learn Japanese at one of four training centers in Japan over the first six-month period. They will then aim to acquire Japanese licenses while working at selected medical institutions. They will receive the same levels of wages as their Japanese co-workers.

If they get licenses, they will be allowed to work in Japan. However, they will be required to go back to their home country if they fail to get licenses before their visas expire.

source: HDR Japan