TOKYO - Seventy-eight applicants from Indonesia and the Philippines passed the fiscal 2013 national examination qualifying them to work as caregivers in Japan, the health ministry said Thursday.
The number of successful foreign applicants dropped by 50 from the previous year and the pass rate of foreigners was 36.3 percent, down 3.5 percentage points from a year before, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
It was the third year foreign applicants took the examination. Japan has allowed Indonesian and Filipino nationals to work as nurses and caregivers under bilateral free trade agreements with the two Southeast Asian nations.
To overcome the language barrier, the ministry has given foreign exam takers special treatment, such as extra time to complete the test and placing "furigana" readings over Chinese characters in questions.
Even so, the pass rate of foreigners was considerably lower than the overall pass rate of 64.6 percent.
Of the 78 successful candidates, 46 were Indonesians and 32 were from the Philippines. They prepared for the exam while working at nursing care facilities in Japan.