EFETokyo

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is preparing a plan to increase the number of foreign caregivers for the elderly in the face of the growing shortage of workers in the sector, public broadcaster NHK reported Tuesday.

A document compiled by the ministry urges to include the category of nursing services and care to dependent persons within the public technical training for foreign learners program designed to train staff from developing countries.

The report specifies that the government will grant residence to those who obtain a license to provide this type of assistance in Japanese training centers.

With the measure, Japan is responding to the shortage of labor in this sector, which is expected to worsen in the coming years due to the progressive ageing of the population.

The government estimates that by 2025 Japan would need about 300,000 caregivers from abroad to cope with the demand for such services.

The expansion of the technical training program would take effect from April 2016, according to NHK.

The ministry also hopes to establish a new agency to supervise institutions that accept foreign trainees, since the program that started two decades ago has been criticized for harsh conditions that many of the trainees have allegedly been subjected to.

There have been several lawsuits filed over alleged abuses and irregularities committed against these apprentices by several companies and organizations.