With declining birthrate and growing proportion of elderly people, Japan is in need of careworkers overseas. Under such circumstance, Japan and South East Asian countries have concluded an agreement (EPA/) in 2008 that Japan would accept careworkers from such countries as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. For those who have come to Japan to work, the salary that they earn in Japan is unbelievably high compare to that in their home countries. The agreement seems right to the point. However, things are not as easy as they look.
There is a requirement for them to meet in order to continue working in Japan; they may not ‘officially’ work as careworkers unless they pass a national exam. If they do not pass it, they have to go back to their home countries in a couple years no matter what. And the thing is, the national exam, which is conducted in Japanese, is so difficult for those whose mother tongue is not Japanese that none of them passed the exam in the first year of the agreement, and even in the next year, only three workers passed it.
The survey above shows that, concerning international flow of labor, approximately 90 percent of Japanese people give weight to the understanding of Japanese language (94%), custom (88.8%), and culture (85.5%), more than to specialistic ability and skill (74.3%). Here is shown Japan’s conservative attitude to foreign labores not only as Japan’s national systems but also as the public views. Japan and the other Asian countries can help each other; the supply and demand are perfectly matched. But still, Japan seems not want them to stay permanently in Japan. It seems because people in Japan think that too much flow of foreign labores can ruin Japanese culture and custom, and it is more important than the big demand from healthcare agencies.
Also, on the agreement, Japan has guaranteed to burden all the cost for training and langage lesson for foreign workers, which for now has reached more than 100 million yen. Language skill to be actually needed for careworking can be learned after working of half an year, says Maria Sagawa, who is from the Philippines and has been working as a careworker in Japan for 26 years now. Does Japan have to spend another 100 million yen in a couple of years again, which is not needed to if Japan allow the workers to continue working for another couple of years without the exam? It is such a waste of money, isn’t it?
by Koji Arai