The Japanese government is weighing plans to accept Vietnamese nurses and caregivers for positions in Japan, expanding a program currently open to only Indonesians and Filipinos under economic partnership agreements.

According to the Nikkei daily, an official decision about accepting Vietnamese nurses and caregivers is expected by September's end, the deadline for negotiations between Japan and Vietnam to revise their economic partnership pact.

The newspaper said Japan is expected to solicit around 200 nurses and caregivers from Vietnam annually, with the first group to arrive starting in fiscal 2013. Like their Indonesian and Filipino counterparts, the Vietnamese personnel would eventually be required to take national examinations to obtain Japanese licences in their fields.

Japan will also strengthen Japanese-language education programme for candidates before they arrive.

The Health and Welfare Ministry predicts Japan will face a shortage of up to 200,000 nurses and 1.27 million caregivers in 2025 as the population ages./.