Published on October 4th, 2013 | by JRO


Becoming A Nurse In Japan

Until 1915, Japanese nursing education was primarily centered around midwifery. Since then, there have been great strides in nursing education and new and more varied nursing programs have been developed. Modern day Japan utilizes four types of nurses: registered nurses, midwives, public health nurses and assistant nurses. In Japan, nursing specialties are established at the graduate level; some of these specialties are advanced clinical nursing, gerontological nursing, school nursing and family nursing.

The Duties

Public health nurses assist the public with the monitoring of disease, educate residents about communicable diseases and observe environmental hazards in the community. Midwives work independently. They care for the pregnant woman during and after her labor. They also educate the mother about breastfeeding and taking care of the baby. A registered nurse is licensed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. They are qualified to work in hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices. Assistant nurses are supervised by a registered nurse. They follow instructions from the registered nurse and provide information about the condition of the patient.


To receive basic nursing education in Japan, you have three options; either a four year degree at an accredited university, three years in junior nursing college or a three-year training school program after graduating from high school. However, to obtain your nurse’s license after high school, you are required to enroll in a training program and take the national exam. If you are currently a practical nurse, you can become a registered nurse by taking a two-year course at the university level.

Students who are attending a four year university have some advantage over students who are attending nursing school. They have a chance to take the national examination and work as a licensed registered nurse, public health nurse, or midwife. Nursing school graduates who want to become a public health nurse or midwife will only need to take a one year course after passing the national exam. Public health nurses can receive their education at training schools, colleges or graduate school.

If you pursue four years of education at a University or three years at a junior college, you are under the authority of the Ministry of Education, but the Ministry of Health controls most training school programs. In Japan, the prerequisite for public health nurses, midwives, registered nurses and assistant nurses is governed by law, whereas the certification of specified nurses is not governed by law. Even though there are many organizations that provide certification for these personnel, the system to receive a nursing credential is administered by JNA, which is more socially recognized.

After Certification

Registered nurses are not required to pursue continuing education after obtaining their license. However, it is imperative that nurses continue to develop their expertise to meet the needs of the community and to stay abreast of advanced healthcare technology. Continuing learning opportunities are offered by the Japanese Nursing Association for those who are interested. Once you receive a license to become a registered nurse, you don’t have to renew your license.

In 1992, the Japanese government authorized new university programs to improve nursing in the country. These programs are put in place to raise the level of education for nurses to meet the needs of the Japanese population, particularly the growing aging population.


Jonathan Portland is a freelance writer who specializes in education, career opportunities, business management, university culture, student life, tuition costs and other important topics; those considering a career in the medical field may want to check out LPN schools to learn about becoming a licensed practical nurse.

Image credit goes to otisarchives3.

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