TOKYO -- The Japanese government decided Tuesday 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.
The Cabinet decision is aimed at giving the candidate nurses and caregivers from the two countries a better chance to pass the Japanese qualifying exams and eventually work in the country.
The move came in the wake of a low pass rate for the tests due to language barriers, and calls from both the Indonesian and Philippine governments for an 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 fiscal 2013.
In fiscal 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 that of caregivers is four years. The candidates must pass the exams within the designated period or return to their 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.