Photo/IllutrationTruong Thi Tham, left, has passed the hotel industry exam to acquire the new “specified skills” working visa. During her stay in Japan, she traveled with her Japanese language teacher and joined Japanese festivals with Vietnamese friends. The photo was taken in Nagoya. (Provided by Truong Thi Tham)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Now that Truong Thi Tham has passed the exam for foreigners seeking to acquire the new "specified skills" working visa, she hopes to return to Japan and find a job at a top hotel.

The Vietnamese woman is one of 280 people who passed the inaugural exam for a visa to work in the hotel industry, in results announced May 25 by the government.

“It might take a while, but I want to return to Japan," said Tham, 30. "My dream is to work at a five-star hotel in Japan."

The exam is one of three steps needed to obtain the new working visa. The program was introduced in April to help mitigate workforce shortages in Japan, in which the government hopes to accept a maximum of about 340,000 foreigners over the next five years for 14 sectors.

To obtain the visa, applicants must pass the exam and the N-4 level Japanese language proficiency test. They also need to pass a screening by the Immigration Services Agency, affiliated with the Justice Ministry.

According to the organization that held the inaugural hotel industry exam, 391 people sat for it in April and the pass rate was 71.6 percent. It consisted of written tests on accommodation knowledge and oral tests on customer hospitality.

Results have already been announced for exams held for the restaurant industry and nursing care sector.

Tham was notified of the hotel industry exam results in Qui Nhon in central Vietnam. Along with the announcement, a webpage allowing her to search for a job was also provided, but no openings at hotels were posted in Kanagawa Prefecture where she hopes to work. She is unsure if she will return to work in Aichi Prefecture where she lived and worked until this spring.

Tham worked at a plastics processing plant in Japan as a foreign technical intern trainee. As the expiration date of her visa was at the end of April, she returned to her home country.

Just before leaving Japan, Tham took the exam for the specified skills working visa as she wanted to use her past experience from working at a four-star hotel in Vietnam.

During her university days in Vietnam, Tham read novels written by globally acclaimed Japanese author Haruki Murakami and was also fond of Japanese culture. While working in Japan as a trainee, she always carried flash cards with Japanese written on them telling her not to forget her goals. Her favorite kanji character is “sachi” (happiness).

Tham said she will look for a job at Japanese companies in Ho Chi Minh City for the time being.

(This article was written by Yusuke Saito and Shun Niekawa.)