An ageing society and a shrinking workforce pool: how Japan is preparing to tackle an impending demographic time-bomb

Radha Adhikari, Reinaruth D. Carlos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Based on the findings of two research studies, conducted between 2014-2016 and 2017-2019, this chapter discusses current concerns around an ageing population, and care worker shortages in Japan. It highlights how the Japanese government has foreseen the impending demographic time-bomb, of a shrinking birth rate and an increasing elderly population, and predicted a future workforce crisis.

In 2000, the government of Japan took a radical step: streamlining funding for the elderly and long-term care, and making provision for regulated professional cadres, Certified Care Workers (CCW) and independent care workers to provide long-term care. Since 2008, the country began recruiting foreign care workers under the bilateral Economic Partnership Agreement with neighbouring Asian countries. However, this resulted in only marginal benefits. Japan further expanded its international recruitment policy in 2017, making visa provisions for foreign Technical Trainee students in the care work sector. In 2019, it established another pathway for migrant care workers: a ‘specified skills worker’ visa. Overall, the government’s efforts to prepare adequate numbers of care workers, particularly CCWs and in their long-term care funding scheme, with the commitment of the care home sector, these have become the two major pillars in elderly care provision. This unique model is expected to provide some solutions to the current workforce challenges in Japanese long-term care.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNurse Migration in Asia
Subtitle of host publicationEmerging Patterns and Policy Responses
EditorsRadha Adhikari, Evgeniya Plotnikova
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781032075136
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2023


  • nurse migration
  • Asia
  • migration patterns
  • migration policies


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