Myanmar’s first nursing care trainees arrive in Japan for trainee programme

The first nursing care workers from Myanmar to participate in Japan’s foreign trainee programme arrived at a Hokkaido airport on Monday amid expectations that the Southeast Asian country will provide much-needed workers.

The training programme for foreigners started in 1993 with the aim of transferring various skills to developing countries. But it has also helped supply workers to Japan as the country struggles with labour shortages amid an aging population and falling birthrate.

The three workers from Myanmar, all women in their 20s, will spend three years gaining experience at Sapporo-based Sakura Community Service Co, according to an official at the firm’s affiliate in Yangon.

“I chose Japan because I like Japanese culture. But I’m worried about the cold weather,” Wut Yee Phyo told reporters on Sunday before boarding a plane in Yangon.

The 23-year-old, making her first trip abroad, also said she will try “not to make mistakes resulting from cultural differences between Myanmar and Japan.”

Zin Zin Moe, 28, said she has no worries as she was trained thoroughly. “I wanted to be a caregiver and help the elderly because I didn’t get the chance to look after my father (who died),” she said.

Japan opened up its nursing care sector to foreign trainees in November 2017.

Besides the trainee program, Japan has accepted people from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam to work in nursing facilities under bilateral free trade agreements.

They can continue to work in Japan if they pass a national exam for certified caregivers. Under the bilateral programs, the first of which began with Indonesia in fiscal 2008, around 4300 people have come to Japan. But only 719 individuals had passed the exam by fiscal 2017 as it requires a high level of Japanese language proficiency.

Some critics say workers coming to Japan from Myanmar may have a difficult time adjusting given that the country has a life expectancy of 67 years compared to Japan’s 84 years, and many have never cared for a person who cannot use the toilet by themselves, for example.

As Japan continues to grapple with a severe labour shortage, the government has decided to introduce a new visa system from April that would broaden the entry of foreign workers, including blue-collar workers.

Japan has so far basically granted working visas only to people with professional knowledge and high skills such as doctors, lawyers and teachers. But many foreigners work under the technical intern status, and foreign students are also allowed to work part-time.

Source: Myanmar Times
Published on 7 January 2019

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