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1st group of foreign caregivers start working in Japan+
[January 28, 2009]

1st group of foreign caregivers start working in Japan+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) TOKYO, Jan. 29_(Kyodo) _ A total of 101 Indonesian caregivers started working at nursing facilities in Japan on Thursday under a bilateral free trade agreement, making them the first foreigners to take the job in Japan.

They are the first batch of Indonesian caregivers recruited under the Japan-Indonesia economic partnership agreement concluded in July 2008, under which Japan agreed to accept 600 caregivers and 400 nurses in two years.

The Japanese nursing care industry welcomes the recruitment of foreign workers as it has been chronically understaffed due to low wages and long working hours.

Critics, however, are concerned that the industry will pay less to foreigners and also keep wages of Japanese caregivers at low levels.

The Indonesians are being deployed at 51 nursing homes in 24 prefectures. They have studied the Japanese language and received lecture on Japanese customs for six months since arriving in Japan last August.

Most of them are Muslims, which may make it difficult for them to get accustomed to Japanese culture, customs and lifestyles.

At the nursing homes, they will be paid the same as Japanese staff.

The Indonesians have licenses to work as caregivers in Indonesia. They will become eligible to take Japan's national qualification exams after three years of work in Japan. If they pass the exams within four years of arriving in Japan, they will obtain permanent resident status in the country.

A total of 104 nurses have also arrived in Japan from Indonesia, completing Japanese language courses on Feb. 12. They will be posted at 47 hospitals in 23 prefectures on Feb. 14.

In a similar move, up to about 450 Filipino caregivers and nurses are scheduled to arrive in Japan in April and May under an economic partnership agreement between Japan and the Philippines.

Copyright ? 2009 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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