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Japanese youth promoting appeal of studying abroad

  • 2015-04-21 15:00:00
  • , Asahi
  • Translation

(Asahi: April 20, 2015 – p. 1)

 

 It has been said for some time now that the Japanese youths are growing inward-looking. But those who have studied abroad are active in setting up groups to share their experiences and encourage peers to go overseas. They disseminate information, form networks, and organize study sessions on Japanese politics and culture to convey the appeal of studying abroad to young people.

 

 In mid-February, six students gathered in Tokyo to discuss ideas on how to encourage young people to study abroad. One participant proposed organizing a seminar by inviting working people who have joined study abroad programs. Another suggested introducing eateries in local college towns overseas.

 

 The participants are members of the Ryugaku Renovators, a group to assist people to study abroad, and all have experiences in overseas studies.

 

 Tsubasa Kato, 24, representative of the group who graduated from Waseda University this spring, had never been overseas until he became a college sophomore. His interest in overseas began to take shape when he took part in activities to help refugees, a program he learned of by chance. When he became a college senior, he studied in the U.S. for about a year.

 

 After returning to Japan, he looked for places where he could share his experiences, but there were few such places. So he set up his own group with his peers. “Just like me, there are many students who try to get a foot in going or studying abroad,” he said. “I want to offer a place for enthusiastic youths to gather before and after studying abroad and exchange their ideas.”

 

 The Japanese International Student Society, which was launched in February 2014, organizes study sessions on Japanese politics and culture, with a focus on topics such as constitutional revision and visits to the war-linked Yasukuni shrine. Last year, a group of students toured decontamination sites in Fukushima Prefecture and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum before they went overseas for study.

 

 Yoshihiko Kichikawa, a founder of the group who is currently studying in the U.S., says: “I wanted to build up my knowledge about Japan and international issues so I will be able to convey my opinions to local people when I go overseas. I thought it would be useful for like-minded students to get together to study and share information before going overseas.”

 

 The Japanese Global Scholars, set up in November 2014, also disseminates information on local college life overseas online via Japanese college students studying there.

 

 Activities to promote overseas study programs are spreading beyond Tokyo. The Ryugaku Fellowship, a nonprofit in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, launched at the initiative of a student studying in the U.S., is promoting the appeals of overseas studies to high school students nationwide through Japanese students studying overseas.

 

 Contrary to the general impression, young people are growing more interested in studying overseas. According to the Education Ministry statistics, the number of Japanese students who studied overseas for academic degrees for an extended period of time had been on the decline since it peaked in 2004, but rose to 60,138 in 2012, marking the first increase in eight years.

 

 Data from the Japan Student Services Organization also shows that the number of students on short- and long-term study abroad programs at overseas partner schools with Japanese colleges and graduate schools rose to 45,082 in fiscal 2013, from 18,570 in fiscal 2004.

 

 Study abroad advisory groups launched under students’ initiative

Group name (launch year)

Main activities

GAKKO Project

 

(Feb. 2012)

Invite college and graduate school students from around the world to summer camps to interact with Japanese high school students

Japanese International Student Society

 

(Feb. 2014)

Organize study sessions and tours on Japan before students go overseas for study

Ryugaku Fellowship

 

(March 2014)

Disseminate information on study abroad programs to high school students nationwide

Global Highschoolers

 

(Aug. 2014)

Offer information on how to study overseas and venues for international interaction to junior and senior high school students

Ryugaku Renovators

 

(Aug. 2014)

Give advice to students looking to study abroad from those who have such experience based on their interests and areas of study

Japanese Global Scholars (Nov. 2014)

Disseminate local information via Japanese students studying overseas

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