The Japanese government has set an additional criteria for foreign students hoping to receiving cash handouts of up to 200,000 yen ($1,900) for students in the country struggling financially amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, making only those in the top 30 percent of grades eligible.
The additional condition, which will create a gap in the financial support for students facing hardship in paying for tuition or living costs, has sparked criticism as many foreign students experience the same challenges as their Japanese counterparts.
Members of a student advocacy group that has been calling on the government to reduce school expenses called the decision “complete discrimination.” On Twitter, a Japanese hashtag meaning “The education ministry should give all foreign exchange students the cash handout” has also been gaining traction.
In explaining its decision, the education ministry has said, “With many foreign students eventually returning to their home countries, we have set a condition to limit the handout to promising talent most likely to contribute to Japan in the future.”
As the government will rely on institutions to determine which of their students should receive the assistance, those not meeting the criteria may still be eligible for the handouts, it said.