Nov 21, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

With Japan’s graying population causing a labor shortage in the healthcare sector, international student enrollments in nursing care programs are rising at a significant rate: According to a survey by the Japan Association of Training Institutions for Certified Care Workers, international enrollments nearly doubled over a one-year period from 591 to 1,142. Here’s a closer look at the phenomenon, as reported by ABS-CBN News.

Rising and Falling Numbers

The most recent figures indicate that international students -- whose numbers have been rising since last September’s legal amendment loosening the restrictions on obtaining residential status for certified caregivers -- now comprise one out of six of Japan’s nursing care students.

Vietnam is the largest sending country (542), followed by China (167), Nepal (95), Indonesia (70) and the Philippines (68).

Meanwhile, the number of Japanese nursing care students has decreased by half over a five-year period, reveals the survey of 364 institutions.

Expanding Its Scope

A projected deficit of 340,000 care workers by 2025 has prompted Japan to try to “expand its scope” in terms of accepting foreign nursing care workers. At the same time, however, other countries are also facing shortfalls of their own -- meaning international students will be increasingly in demand moving forward.  

According to Miku Ishibashi of the Daiwa Institute of Research, Japan’s ability to continue to attract international nursing care students will depend on several factors, including better wages and more support for working parents.

Japan is also endeavoring to entice more Japanese workers back to nursing care -- a tricky prospect given that the average monthly wage for caregivers is significantly less than that of workers in other industries.

A Daiwa Institute representative said, “The increase in international student enrollment is a good thing but at the same time we hope many Japanese students will become interested in becoming caregivers.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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