Japan modifies nursing licensure exam for foreigners

The nursing licensure exam in Japan for foreigners will be modified in February in the hope that more foreign nurses will be able to pass it and eventually work with Japanese patients, a Philippine official said Tuesday.

Philippine Overseas Employment Agency chief Jennifer Manalili said Japan has agreed to put English translations beside some Japanese technical or medical terms in its upcoming licensure exam following requests by the Philippine government.

“Japan has come up already with a commitment that for the next licensure exam, which is held every February, very difficult kanji words that are too technical for nurses will have English translations beside them, enclosed in parenthesis, so that they will be easier for our candidate nurses to understand,” Manalili said.

So far, only one Filipino and two Indonesian nurses have passed the Japanese nursing licensure exam — the one held in February this year — since foreigners were allowed to take it under free trade accords between Japan and other countries.

In February last year, none of the 82 foreigners who took the test passed. This year’s test was taken by 254 foreigners.

Since the implementation of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement in December 2008, more than 300 Filipino nurses have been deployed to Japan to undergo language training, fewer than the initial target of 1,000 for the first two years, Manalili said.

The language barrier has been regarded as the main stumbling block in the dispatch of Filipino nurses to Japan, and whether or not they could practice there.

“With this development wherein there will be translations in the exam, we hope that we can have more passers,” Manalili said.