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Japan to ease license to take more Filipino nursing caretakers

Saturday March 24, 2007

Japan to ease license to take more Filipino nursing caretakers

(Kyodo) — The welfare ministry has decided to introduce a new eased license for nursing caretakers as part of measures to facilitate Japan’s acceptance of Filipino caretakers under a bilateral free trade agreement signed last year, ministry officials said Saturday.

The ministry plans to certify those who have not passed a national exam as a "practical" nursing caretaker if they have completed related courses at colleges, universities or vocational schools, the officials said.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has found it necessary to set up the new license to pave the way for those who fail in the state exam to work at nursing-care facilities so as to facilitate the acceptance of Filipino caretakers, the officials said.

Japan is to accept 400 nurses and 600 nursing caretakers in the first two years from fiscal 2007, starting in April, under the FTA signed last September by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The ministry has included the measure in a related bill submitted to the ongoing regular parliamentary session, with an aim of implementing it from fiscal 2012. But it was attached to the bill at the last moment of its submission in what the ministry says is a "transitional" measure until the government adopts a full-fledged licensing policy.

The easier license is necessary because the bill toughens the requirements for certifying "staff" nursing caretakers to those who pass the national exam, scrapping the currently allowed alternatives such as licensing those who complete 1,650 hours of training courses at specialized vocational schools even if they do not take or pass the exam.

The measure deviates from the ministry’s original policy of integrating nursing-care services to a single system in which they are provided only by state-certified "staff" caretakers in order to secure qualified and specialized personnel to carry out the difficult and delicate jobs of taking care of dementia patients and preventing abuses of the elderly.

But the ministry has invited criticism from a group of care workers for what they called "abrupt" action.

"We have objections," the Japan Association of Certified Care Workers said. "It may lead to lowering the treatment of care workers in the future."

 source: Kyodo