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How Much Does Certification as a Care Worker Matter in Japan?

Sat, June 25, 3:00 to 4:50pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 121


The shortage of care workers in seniors' care facilities in Japan is worsening. It has been almost thirty years since the Law for Social Workers and Care Workers (1987) created the credential of "certified care worker," but many care workers still lack this qualification. As background for considering the possible role of foreign care workers in Japan, this paper argues that there is little difference between being a certified care worker and being an uncertified care worker; in addition, the differences that do exist do not necessarily improve work conditions for certified care workers.

To become a certified care worker, one may pass a national certification exam or one may automatically receive certification on the basis of graduating from a two-year training school or a university. Although plans exist for revising this system, implementation has been postponed. There is no major difference in the content of the work for those with and without certification, and a certified care worker makes only about ¥10,000 yen per month more in salary. Even so, the work expectations for certified care workers are expanding to include some nursing care, and certified care workers are also expected to play a supervisory role. Care work puts a lot of psychological and physical burden on all care workers. For instance, both certified and uncertified care workers perform night work in welfare institutions for the elderly. Given the nature of the Long Term Care Insurance system, further improvement of care workers' treatment is unlikely.