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Flexible administration to allow use of foreign-national nursing care workers

April 5, 2016

The Party's Special Mission Committee on Securing the Labor Force (Chairperson: Yoshio Kimura, member of the House of Councillors) met on April 5 to hear from Takako Shirai, Vice President of the Tokyo College of Welfare, an expert in home care and nursing care, and a member of the government's study committee on the acceptance of foreign-national nursing care workers. Among them, a discussion was held on ways to accept foreign-national nursing care workers.

At the beginning of the meeting, Chairperson Kimura said, "In January 2016, the data shows a supply and demand gap of more than 160,000 people." Staffing shortage in the nursing care area is extremely serious and this necessitates the use of foreign nationals, he underscored.

In her remarks to the meeting, Ms. Shirai emphasized: (1) the need for training to acquire sufficient Japanese language abilities as well as nursing care and welfare skills, (2) the fact that training and education are the keys to developing human resources. These two points, she said, are particularly important to foreign-national nursing care workers, because nursing care is a service provided from person to person, thus far understanding each other without a language barrier is essential.

She also commented on changes in the Japanese elderly population, noting the demand for quality nursing care workers as the baby boom generation reaches ages.

Many of the members in attendance expressed the desire to administer the system with flexibility so that foreign nationals could be employed and could make use of their basic knowledge in Japan. Among the comments was, "We need policies to open the door to foreign-national nursing care workers who come to Japan under an economic partnership agreement (EPA), but fail to pass the national examination for certified care workers."

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