10,000 Vietnamese invited to care for Japan’s elderly
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10,000 Vietnamese invited to care for Japan’s elderly

AT least 10,000 caregivers from Vietnam will be welcomed into Japan to look after the nation’s elderly over the next two years due to a severe labour shortage in the aged care industry.

Initially 3000 Vietnamese will be invited to come to Japan with government supported financial assistance and language training, with the remainder of the 10,000 to arrive by 2020, reported the Nikkei Asian Review.

The world’s third largest economy has historically shied away from immigration, however a declining, ageing population and acute labour shortages across the economy has led Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to allow greater numbers of foreign workers to enter the country.

Aged care, manufacturing and low-skilled service sector jobs are areas in demand. Data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry shows that Japan had a shortage of 40,000 caregivers in 2015.

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An elderly man and woman sit on a bench in a park in Tokyo on March 30, 2017. Source: Behrouz Mehri / AFP

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Hanoi and Tokyo are likely to sign a memorandum of understanding this year as part of the Asia Health and Human Well-being Initiative, where Japan is striving to export its expertise on nursing and social welfare to other Asian societies, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Similar targets for recruiting carers from Vietnam’s neighbouring Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos are expected to be set. According to the Japan Times, many of the country’s 250,000-strong Filipino community also work in aged care.

Yukio Noguchi, an economist at Waseda University, said that “the labour shortage will be one of the most serious problems for the Japanese economy over the long term.”

Japan’s working age population between 15 and 64 will have shrunk to less than 38 million by 2060, compared with 65.8 million in 2013, government projections have shown.