TOKYO – The Japanese government is open to easing the national examinations for foreign nurses to accommodate more Filipino nurses.
Ryuji Satomi, director of the Economic Partnership Agreement Office Employment Security Bureau, said the Japanese government recognizes the difficulties foreign health care workers need to hurdle in order to pass the Japanese National Nursing Examinationn administered under the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) scheme.
Satomi assured that the government has come up with new assistance measures this year to help potential Filipino licensed nurses succeed in the test, particularly in the area of Japanese language training where the requirement to learn Nihongo is perceived to be a huge stumbling block to foreign health workers.
It has been noted that difficulties in Nihongo rather than proficiency in skills and competence caused the poor performance of Filipino nurses in the recent national examination for nurses.
In the February 2010 examinations, only one Filipino among 257 applicants was able to pass the test. Aside from the Philippines, Japan is also looking to Indonesia for qualified nurses.
“We are working on making the exams workable for the candidates. We are currently working on improving the test not only for the foreign (health) workers but also for Japanese (nursing) students as well,” Satomi told ASEAN participants of the 31st NSK-CAJ fellowship program in Japan.
According to Satomi, Japanese candidates are finding the test difficult as well.
“The Kanji (Japanese writing) and technical terms are difficult even for the Japanese candidate. We’re open to making (the test) more understandable and accessible,” he said.
Satomi said the Japanese government recognizes the need to alleviate its manpower shortage in the health care industry as its population continues to decline and age. Currently, they have nurses who have potential but do not have the qualifications.
But despite the difficulties, he believes the scheme under the EPA could still work after thorough negotiations with the Philippine government.
“From the operational perspective, (I know) we can make minor amendments,” he said further indicating that this could include replacing technical terms in the test with familiar or easier language.
Part of the assistance measures offered by the government for 2010 is the introduction of e-learning systems that would enable self-learning for candidates in their home country and grants for Japanese language training in accepting facilities.
Satomi said they realized that the six months language training is not enough though both Indonesia and the Philippines acknowledge the need to learn the language.
Under the JPEPA, nurses are required to undergo Japanese language training programs to be able to pass the examinations and to enable them to communicate effectively with colleagues.
“(Working in a medical facility) requires teamwork. You have to communicate effectively with patients, doctors and other hospital staff,” he pointed out.
He said the measure also provides periodic group training and or mock exams for the candidates to assess one’s acquisition level.
Originally posted from here