(Sankei: January 24, 2015 – p. 2)
There are limits to covering the labor shortage in nursing care services by accepting more foreign workers.
The government is considering increasing the number of foreign nursing care workers. It intends not only to have foreign students who earn nursing care certification to continue working in Japan as qualified workers but also to include the nursing care business in the technical intern training program for foreigners.
However, if Japan accepts a large number of foreign nursing care workers as a “cheap labor force,” there will be a possibility that Japan’s nursing care services will become dependent on foreign workers. We don’t want the inflow of foreign workers to result in the stagnation of the salaries of Japanese nursing care workers. Nursing care is a job related to human dignity. The government should adopt the stance of making nursing care services the type of occupation in which Japanese people can work with pride.
In 2025, when baby boomers are 75 years old or older, an estimated 1 million nursing care workers will be needed. It is understandable that the government considers the use of foreign workers as an option to deal with such a situation. We clearly sense the government’s intention to secure “workers” quickly.
In connection with the employment of qualified caregivers, it is a realistic decision to only accept foreign students graduated from Japanese institutions of higher learning for jobs in nursing care. The government should strengthen support for foreign students so that they can concentrate on course work leading to acquisition of a certificate.
The problem is the expansion of acceptance under the technical intern training program. Doesn’t the government’s plan deviate from the program’s purpose of having people from developing countries acquire skills and knowledge?
The government has made occupations other than nursing care services eligible for the program. It is inappropriate for the government to attempt to lift the effective ban on unskilled foreign labor by expanding the range of eligible occupations.
Foreign nursing care workers require not only nursing care expertise but also Japanese language proficiency, including technical terms and dialects. They need to perceive changes in the physical condition of elderly patients from slight changes in their facial expressions and short utterances, and inform doctors. This is something that is beyond them.
The [interim report] compiled by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare stipulates that Japanese language capability is a condition for acceptance under the technical intern training program. That holds true for certified foreign nursing care workers. If the government accepts foreign workers in response to the labor shortage, nursing care services in Japan will be thrown into confusion.
The government has just recently decided to improve the treatment of caregivers by raising the payments for care services. The government should come up with a system in which Japanese staff can make a career in nursing care and in which caregiving is rewarding. Foreigners who would find such a system attractive will come to Japan. This is how the government should proceed.