Japan to Loosen Language Requirements to Entice Foreign Nursing Care Trainees

Illustration of a female nurse holding a syringe

In November 2017, Japan opened up its nursing care sector to foreign-born nationals who were willing to start out their careers as trainees.

The central government of Japan had also imposed laws on foreign trainees, whereby they had to possess a Japanese proficiency of N4 upon their arrival into the country. They were required to then pass N3 after one year of working in the care industry and were compelled to return to their home countries if they failed.

In a Japan Times article, it was revealed that the number of corresponding applications have dropped, most likely due to the complexities of the Japanese language itself.

It’s no secret that the Japanese language is one of the hardest to learn, requiring over 2000 learning hours so as to lay a solid base that consists of speaking, reading & writing as well as listening skills.

During my undergraduate career, I chose to study international business with the added component of a foreign language. Challenges are something, I always welcome so I decided to learn Japanese and what an experience it was.

From committing two foundational alphabet systems to memory, to studying the dreaded ‘Kanji’ characters which were adopted from the Chinese language during the 5th century, I don’t blame people for being intimidated and warned off at the prospect of what is inevitably, an arduous journey.

After all, studying a foreign language demands one’s passion, not only for the subject, but the culture, customs and gastronomy of the country in question.

Currently, the government is planning to ease proficiency requirements by allowing trainees who fail the exams, to stay in the country for two additional years on the condition that they continue studying the language.

This new policy is expected to take effect in March 2019, with the country hoping that this will encourage workers from countries such as Vietnam, to apply for trainee positions.

It remains to be seen, how successful this will prove to be in the coming months.

By Lavanya Nair