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Japan’s foreign student numbers drop drastically while students struggle amid pandemic

  • May 12, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 3:22 p.m.
  • English Press

About 40% of Japanese language schools have seen no new enrollments of foreign student since the start of April, as regulations on foreigners’ entry into Japan have been strengthened due to spread of infections with the new coronavirus.

 

The situation was found by research conducted by six organizations nationwide, including the Tokyo-based Association for the Promotion of Japanese Language Education, which comprises Japanese language schools.

 

More than 80% of foreigners who were scheduled to enroll in Japanese schools have been unable to enter Japan, and it is unknown when they will be able to come to the country.

 

According to the Justice Ministry, there are nearly 800 Japanese language schools nationwide. The research was conducted mainly on Japanese language schools belonging to the six organizations.

 

As of April 22, they received replies from a total of 208 schools in 32 prefectures, including Tokyo and Hokkaido.

 

Among foreigners who were scheduled to enroll in the schools in April, 11,653 foreigners, or 84%, are on a waiting list to enter Japan. Of the surveyed schools, 86, or 41%, said that no student has been able to enter the country.

 

In 196 schools, or 94%, only 30% or less of new foreign students have been able to come to Japan.

 

The situation is partly caused by the government’s refusal since April 3 to allow the entry of people from a wide range of countries and regions which send out large numbers of students, such as China and Vietnam.

 

Many of the schools said that their management conditions have been negatively impacted.

 

In Meros Language School in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro area, only about 20 of about 140 foreigners who were scheduled to enroll in the school in April have been able to enter Japan.

 

More than 10 persons canceled their enrollments in the school. Also, among those who had already enrolled, more than 20 quit the school and returned to their home countries.

 

Junko Kagawa, principal of the school, said, “We are unable to recruit students for autumn enrollment. Next year, the number of our students may become zero.”

Students in Japanese language schools and foreign graduates from the schools who enrolled in other schools have also fallen on hard times.

 

A 20-year-old Vietnamese student in a Japanese language school in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, said his income decreased. As a sushi-go-round restaurant where he works as a part-time employee shortened its service hours, his monthly income from the part-time job fell from about ¥120,000 before to about ¥90,000 now.

 

He expressed his anxiety saying, “Though I could narrowly earn my living, now I can’t make ends meet.”

 

A 23-year-old Vietnamese woman who studies in a vocational school in Tokyo after graduating from a Japanese language school lost her job as a part-time employee in an izakaya pub. She lost an about ¥100,000 income a month from the job.

 

If she continues to earn no income, she will be unable to pay the vocational school’s fee, at about ¥700,000 a year, and other expenditures.

 

She showed concern saying, “Though I want to get a job in a Japanese company after graduating from the vocational school, I will have to give up on graduation if this situation goes unchanged.”

 

The six organizations also conducted a survey on foreign students between April 17 and 30. Of them, 1,887 responded.

 

The survey results show that about 50% of the students said that money transfers from their family members stopped or decreased. Also, about 40% of the students lost their part-time jobs.

 

Such foreign students enroll in universities or vocational schools in Japan after graduating from Japanese language schools, and then join Japanese companies after obtaining other categories of resident statuses. By doing so, they support the Japanese society.

 

Takayasu Omura, representative director of the Japan Association for Promotion of Internationalization, which encourages studying overseas, said, “I want the government to improve assistance for daily living [of foreign students], such as rent subsidies for housing, and also take measures against the new coronavirus so that foreign students can come to Japan with a sense of security.”

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