Yomiuri: 80% of hospitals interested in employing foreign nurses


Hi Blog. Here’s something to point to next time you get the boilerplate about the Japanese public being unprepared for a foreign influx. We know Keidanren has long wanted foreign labor so the nation’s factories can stay afloat with cheap workers. Now it’s clearer, according to the survey below, that the medical industry expressly wants them because they have NO workers. Now let’s stop putting up so many hurdles for Filipina nurses to become “qualified” (and for crissakes belay the pipedreams of robot caregivers!). Debito in Sapporo

80% of hospitals interested in employing foreign nurses
Yomiuri Shinbun Mar. 12, 2008
Courtesy of Jeff Korpa

More than 80 percent of medium- or large-sized hospitals have indicated an interest in accepting foreign nurses, while about 40 percent are actually considering hiring such nurses, according to a survey by a research team at the Kyushu University Asia Center.

Following bilateral economic partnership agreements signed between Japan and the Philippines and Indonesia, Japan likely will start accepting nurses and caregivers from those countries as early as this summer.

“There were more hospitals that showed interest in accepting foreign nurses than we’d expected,” said Sadachika Kawaguchi, professor at University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan, who also was involved in the survey.

“The high interest among hospitals is not only because they hope to address the shortage of nurses, but rather, many apparently are hoping to revitalize themselves by having foreign nurses on staff,” he said.

“But many hospitals seem hesitant to [move to accept foreign nurses] due to a lack of information about them,” Kawaguchi added.

The survey, conducted in February, covered 1,604 hospitals nationwide with more than 300 beds, and 522 hospitals, or 32.5 percent, submitted valid responses.

More than 80 percent of respondents expressed interest in hiring foreign nurses, with 28.7 percent saying they were “very” interested and 54.2 percent “a little” interested.

Asked whether they hoped to accept Indonesian and Filipino nurses coming to Japan under the EPAs, 7.3 percent said they were eager to accept them, while 30.3 percent said they would like to if possible, meaning that 37.6 percent of the respondents, or 196 hospitals, showed positive attitudes toward accepting such skilled workers.

Among the 196 hospitals, 129 indicated they would accept two or three nurses, followed by 27 hospitals saying they wanted to accept between four and six. Three hospitals said they would like to hire 11 nurses each.

In a multiple-answer question on the reasons why they wanted to take on foreign nurses, 53.8 percent said it was due to a shortage of nurses, while 53.1 percent cited international exchange.

Meanwhile, 61.9 percent of the hospitals, or 323 hospitals, said they did not want to accept foreign nurses. Asked the reasons why, and allowed to give multiple answers, 61.3 percent expressed concern about the nurses’ communication skills with patients, followed by 55.7 percent who said they would have to spend much time or staff resources to train them, and 46.4 percent citing a lack of knowledge of the level of their nursing techniques.

Yomiuri Shinbun Mar. 12, 2008

7 comments on “Yomiuri: 80% of hospitals interested in employing foreign nurses

  • I recall hearing that it’s the Filipine side that is against this now, because they claimed that they cannot be sure that the nurses will be treated with due respect, the main force behind this being the Catholic Church in Filipines. Any information about that?

    –Quite. Can someone search the Philippine press for us and send us a link?

  • Link

    POSITION STATEMENT ON THE JPEPA (Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement)


    The Filipino nurses constitute the biggest foreign-educated nurses in the United States. There is also a growing number of nurses in Europe and Middle East. They are dubbed to be the best nurse in the world. Global respect for the quality of caring and the competencies of the Filipino nurses have undoubtedly evolved from the Filipino nurses produced by the Philippine Nursing Education, regulated by the Philippine Board of Nursing, and provided experience and training by the Philippine Nursing Practice. The Philippine government shall jointly maintains the pride, dignity and professionalism of Filipino nurses.

    The Filipino nurses politely decline the offer of Japan as it is currently embodied in the JPEPA. Nurses strongly feel that the bilateral agreement shortchanges the professional qualifications of Filipino nurses and exposes to potential abuse and discrimination those who may be unwittingly enticed to seek Japanese employment under its bilateral channel.


    Filipino Nurses are calling for the rejection of the JPEPA with keen regard and utmost consideration to the official position of the Japanese Nursing Association (JNA) that reforms and improvement in the working conditions salaries and benefits of local Japanese nurses should first be instituted before the entry of Filipino nurses. They should institute to improve the working conditions of local Japanese nurses first before they can ensure that Filipino nurses will have favorable working conditions in Japan.


    Under the bilateral agreement, the odds are unfairly stacked against us. It could be said that with the JPEPA Japan slightly opened the gate to the yard, but double- bolted the door to the house.

    Under the present inequitable terms of the JPEPA, a qualified Filipino nurse will not be accorded the equal status of a full-fledged Japanese nurse practicing in Japan.

    Indonesian Nurses, who studied nursing in three years only without licensure examinations and two years experience, are currently accorded better placement and career opportunities by Japan than Filipino nurses who had four years of nursing education, passed the licensure examination and had 3 years working experience.


    Even with a bachelor痴 degree earned from four years of higher education in the Philippines, proof of competence by virtue of having passed the Philippine Licensure Examination and three solid years of work experience, the Filipino nurse will go to Japan not to fully practice the nursing profession but to become a trainee. Under the JPEPA, the Filipino nurse must train under the supervision of a Japanese nurse for up to three years. If unable to pass the nursing licensure examination in Japanese, the Filipino nurse would have to be deported.

    Not salaried but given allowance� Neither employees nor workers� Hence, not protected!

    As trainees who have not yet passed the Japanese Licensure Examination, the Filipino nurses risk receiving mere trainee allowance (not salary for a professional practice of nursing). They also risk having virtually zero employment right in Japan as they are considered neither employees nor workers under Japan痴 Immigration Control Act. Specific provisions committing Japan to international core labor standards and the protection of the rights of migrant health workers are also absent in the agreement.

    Also, Japan痴 failure to ratify ILO Convention no. 111, otherwise known as the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, is an indication that the Japanese government is not keen on addressing the persistent problem of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, language and social status in Japan.


    Thus exposed to generally unfavorable working conditions in Japan, the Filipino nurse would be spending three years of his or her life hoping for real work when he or she could have a rewarding professional career in other countries abroad with better remuneration than what Japan currently offers even to its local Japanese nurses.

    Unrealistic Demand for Filipinos to Speak Nihonggo, a suspicious agenda of cheap labor

    Filipino nurses acknowledge that communication skills form an integral part of health care service delivery and that a working facility with the Japanese language is a valid requirement for nursing practice in Japan. But the language skills required by the JPEPA are so high as to constitute an almost impregnable barrier to our entry. Filipino nurses, given the unnecessarily stringent requirements, will most likely end up providing cheap labor and quality nursing care as nursing trainees in Japanese health care facilities.


    If only Filipino nurses are aware of the plight of the Japanese nurses, they will realize that we have a similar situation here in the Philippines. Even with the promulgation of RA 7305 or the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, the greater benefits and increased remuneration for nurses mandated by that law are ignored by the Philippine government. This is a major factor to the many reasons why Filipino nurses decide to look for foreign employment. As the Philippine situation is not ideal for Filipino nurses, the JPEPA offers a blurred opportunity that discriminates the Filipino nurses, and in effect attract Filipino nurses to serve Japanese (instead of Filipinos) for a future that after all does not belong to them. Nurses should rather see the value of staying in the Philippines to serve the Filipinos (and given professional accord and protection by the government) that being 兎xported,� discriminated and without clear career path and security.


    The economic values of JPEPA should exclude the nurses for the issue is beyond just the influx of economic variables but the dignity of professionals that Philippines have been proud of in the global market. A Filipino professional nurse, reduced to a trainee, paid allowance, and given neither protection nor assurance of tenure and career path in Japan, may indeed bring in economic productivity but shall certainly hurt the self- esteem and the rightful pride of being a professional nurse in particular and of being Filipino in general.

    釘eggars can稚 be choosers.� True! But Filipino nurses are not begging for job in Japan for the rest of the world has been wanting the service of Filipino nurses.

    DR. LEAH PRIMITIVA G. SAMACO-PAQUIZ National President Philippine Nurses Association (PNA)

  • this article is very confusing.
    It should be read 80% of hospitals that responded are interested, that being of 1,604 asked for responses, only 522 had “valid” responses. So it would be 80% of those that replied, however in context, perhaps 20% or less overall?
    I suppose this is a good article in the way that it twists the statistics to make it more positive.

    Does anyone know the working conditions of nurses in Japan as compared to other counties such as the USA?

  • So they want qualified professional nurses who speak Japanese, and in return give them no job security, no workers legal protection (because they’re ‘trainees’ not employees) and the lowest wage I’ve ever seen (trainee wages).

    Who wins accross the board in this situation? You might argue that they will be building their skills while they’re here, but I doubt they’ll learn many professional skills as trainees. They may even unlearn a whole lot.

    Get real guys, Japan is a nice place to live, but it’s not worth that.

  • I find this very interesting; Japan has a nursing shortage? I shouldn’t be surprised, many countries seem to (Australia certainly has). It’s amazing that such a vital part of society can be like this, but I guess it’s just so easy to sweep under the “too hard” rug. Nobody wants to think about going to hospital and everything that surrounds that, after all…

  • TTJ,
    thank you very much for the link and quote!

    It’s very pleasant to read a text written by someone aware of notions of dignity and self-respect – for a change! I know some (Japanese) people who have worked as nurses, they all have left their jobs relatively soon, and although they do not comment on the work conditions, they said they would prefer not to return and were thinking about obtaining some other qualifications. There might be exceptions, of course… But…


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