Quick interview: A young Vietnamese who passed the special skills exam!

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  • Special skilled residence status (特定技能, tokutei gino) is a great opportunity for all foreigners currently living inside and outside Japan, wishing to have a stable job, and to eventually settle down in this most developed country of Asia. This status of residence has only been put into effect since this April (2019), but it has made a lot of progress, and many foreigners, especially young students, have taken the visa special exam to increase the opportunities of actualizing their Japanese dream.

    This time, we had the opportunity to interview a young Vietnamese who passed the tokutei gino exam to get the Special Skills residence status. He took the exam in Food Service industry at the Hakata test-site (Fukuoka city) this June (2019). Read on for his experience with taking the exam.

    Reason for taking the exam

    Because of the confidentiality of personal information, we do not disclose the real name of the Vietnamese person that we interviewed, but will only call him A-san (age 26). At the time of taking the tokutei gino exam, A-san was still a foreign student at a university in Fukuoka. Recently, he has reached the highest level of Japanese language proficiency, and he wants to complete his university degree rather than quitting his studies and looking for a job.

    A-san decided to take this particular exam because he wants to increase his job opportunities and to have a more stable residence status in Japan after graduation, as well as to understand this exam and equip himself with one more certificate. (Certificates and diplomas are important tools for people who want to apply for a job in Japan.)

    Registration method and exam study materials

    Registration method

    Thanks to his high Japanese ability, A-san registered for the exam as well as looked for study materials on the official website of the tokutei gino exam in Food Service industry. According to the website, the next tests will be held in November this year and the first round of next year, 2020, has also been announced to take place in mid-February.

    Within the validity period of the exam registration, you can access the website, follow the steps to register an account for the exam, as well as see updates and latest news on exam schedule and location. The exam fee is 7000 yen. Exam dates and locations will also be sent directly to your email, according to the email address you have registered. Below is a screenshot of the mail indicating that you have successfully registered for the exam.

    Photo from A-san


    Exam study materials

    On the official website of the tokutei gino exam in Food Service industry, when you scroll down, there will be a set of exam study materials, and there is also a Vietnamese version!

    Screenshot from the official website


    However, please notice that the test will be entirely in Japanese so the Vietnamese section is just for Vietnamese applicants to understand correctly and remember easily. The reason why only a Vietnamese version is prepared is because the Japanese government is looking for as many Vietnamese employees for the Food Service industry as possible.

    A-san studied for the exam from these materials only, and he passed the exam. It took him about a month of studying, and he says the study material covers the entire content of the exam. So you do not need to stress out or worry that this exam has hidden materials or difficulties.

    Impressions from the exam

    The exam

    A-san says: “Maybe because I am studying kenkou eiyou (健康栄養, nutrition & health) at university, I did not find the exam very difficult. I cannot remember exactly, but the questions were completely corresponding to the exam study materials posted on the official website.

    The exam consists of two parts: theoretical and practical questions, with 3 sections: preliminary processing, food safety and hospitality. There are some simple questions that only check your ability to understand Japanese, such as questions for calculating with addition or subtraction, or questions of given formula to calculate the soap mix – very easy. Regarding the difficulty of the Japanese language level, I think it is not difficult, anyone who has reached N3 level on the JLPT will overcome it easily.”

    Test-site atmosphere

    According to A-san, the number of Vietnamese people taking the exam accounts for the majority of examinees, and there are also applicants from other countries such as Nepal, China and even Western countries. Although it was the first exam there were very few technical errors, the exam supervisors were helpful, but on the other hand the atmosphere seemed to be stricter than the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).

    Specifically, all examinees must present their residence card (which was checked very carefully). The supervisor also went to each desk to request and confirm that the candidate has turned off his mobile phone, and they were repeatedly going back and forth during the exam to control the exam room discipline.

    Another impression that A-san shared with us, is that there were many recruiters and HR agencies waiting in front of the examination area and distributing leaflets to introduce their companies and job offers. There were at least 4 or 5 companies using this “head-hunting” technique on the exam day.

    The result

    A-san waited about a month to get results. After that, there are also companies who approach you at the job placement test place, but because you are still studying, you do not want to change visas immediately.

    Photo from A-san



    As you can see, the tokutei gino exam is not as difficult as the JLPT N2 or N3 exam. And just obtaining JLPT N4 and tokutei gino certificate, you will be very much “an attractive employee” to many companies, as there is currently a lack of workers in all industries in Japan.

    So what are you waiting for? A bright future may be waiting for you, as long as you have the courage to step through the door of the tokutei gino exam!