The Japanese government has decided to allow nurse and caregiver trainees from Indonesia and the Philippines to stay an additional year for further training and to give failed candidates another chance to sit for qualification exams to work in Japan under bilateral free trade agreements between the countries.
The decision is aimed at giving nurses and caregivers a better chance to pass the qualifying exams and eventually work in the country full time.
The move comes int he wake of low pass rates said to be due to language barriers, and call for both countries to allow the extension.
It is the third time the government has decided to give an extra year to prospective health-care workers from the Philippines and Indonesia. A one-year extension was given in 2011 and 2013, which a Japanese official said has helped boost the overall pass rate.
The latest extension applies to 93 nurses and caregivers from Indonesia who arrived in Japan in fiscal 2012 as well as 300 Filipino and Indonesian candidate nurses and caregivers who came to Japan in 2013.
In 2013, the pass rate for the nurse exam was 10.6 percent, while the rate for the caregiver test was 36.3 percent.
The move will benefit those who failed the exams but were able to meet certain conditions such as having relatively good scores in the last qualifying exams they took.
Under the bilateral deals, the current length of stay for prospective nurses is three years and caregivers at four years. The candidates must pass the exams within the designated period or return to their given countries.
The candidates arrive in Japan and take language lessons for six months and receive on-the-job training. Candidate nurses are given three chances to take the exams and caregivers only one. An extension makes it possible for prospective nurses to sit for the test four times and for caregivers twice.
Around 2,200 trainees have so far come to Japan from the two Southeast Asian countries in line with the agreements.