TOKYO -- The Japanese government has decided to allow qualified foreign guest workers who arrive in the country under special economic programs to seek employment at providers of home-based nursing care.
Only a small number of such foreign guest workers will likely be able to actually find jobs at such nursing care service providers, since they will need proper qualifications, adequate on-the-job experience and sufficient Japanese-language ability to work there. But the decision Friday by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will open a new door to foreign guest workers and address the issue of worker shortages at nursing care service providers.
At present, such workers cannot work as visiting caregivers even if qualified, limiting their job prospects to outpatients. Even then, they face an uphill battle to find work, partly because of a requirement that demands employers hire at least two people from the same country in a given year, a measure intended to help guest workers cope better with a new life in an unfamiliar environment. The ministry has also decided to relax this requirement, making it possible to add just one foreign guest worker if other people from the same country are already working there.
These new measures are unlikely to be implemented until around fiscal 2017 because the ministry aims to first create a reporting system that will help prevent problems involving foreign caregivers.
Japan's bilateral economic partnership agreements with Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam allow qualified citizens from those countries to come to Japan to work as nursing care professionals for a certain number of years. Since 2008, more than 2,000 such people have come to Japan under these programs.