Government-financed foreign student in Japan

Government-financed foreign student in Japan Japan

The treatment of international students in Japan is often debated because they are treated better than Japanese students.

There are various opinions, but this article summarizes what the problem is and why there have been so many voices saying “I don’t agree”.

The Japanese Government Scholarship Program is said to be a good way to be treated

The Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship is a program implemented by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to accept international students.

The purpose of this program is to promote understanding of Japan among foreigners, to build friendly relations with the students’ home countries, and to utilize the skills they have learned for the development of their countries. According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, there were 9,220 government-sponsored international students in 2028. By country, Chinese students were the largest number, followed by Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese. This shows that the government-sponsored foreign students that Japan accepts come mainly from Asian countries.

Problems with the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship Program

The Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship Program has a long history, having been established in 1954. Why has this system become controversial in recent years?

In my opinion, it is because it is not a positive system for Japanese people.

The main questions are as follows.

  • Even though contributing to the development of one’s home country is one of the purposes of the Japanese Government Scholarship Program, about half of the students remain in Japan after completing their university studies.
  • The percentage of students who have favorable feelings toward Japan is low, even though one of the purposes of the program is to build friendly relations between Japan and their home countries (according to a survey by the Newspaper and Communications Research Foundation (2016), only about 30% of Korean and Chinese students said they have favorable feelings toward Japan).
  • There is a significant difference between the non-repayable scholarships received by Japanese students, which range from 20,000 to 40,000 yen per month, and the monthly stipend for government-sponsored international students, which is just over 140,000 yen (plus travel and other expenses).

If you study at a British university, the tuition fee is about three times that of a British citizen.

The reason why scholarships for government-sponsored foreign students are so expensive is to allow them to concentrate on their studies, and it seems to be more of a salary than a scholarship (part-time work for government-sponsored foreign students is forbidden).

Despite these reasons, it is strange to think that foreigners are treated better than their own citizens.

Reasons why, as a Japanese citizen, I am not satisfied with the system

Japanese students are struggling to repay their scholarships, while foreign students are being treated more generously.

This is perhaps the point that is most difficult to accept.

According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the number of foreign students in 2048 was 312,214, of which government-sponsored foreign students accounted for about 3% of all foreign students.

Some say that only a small percentage of foreign students are treated well, but the annual cost of government-sponsored foreign students is more than 18 billion yen. As a taxpayer who works hard to pay taxes, this is a figure that cannot be ignored.

If we assume that scholarships are provided to 9,000 students, even a rough calculation shows that each student costs 2 million yen per year. Considering the current situation in which many Japanese students are suffering, it is still unacceptable.

International Students Suffering

In the past, some 1,600 international students accepted by Tokyo University of Social Welfare went missing. When you hear news like this, you may feel more and more averse to accepting foreign students.

The missing students may make you wonder if their sole purpose in coming to Japan is to enter the country from the beginning. However, this does not seem to be the case for all students.

There are many international students who spend all their time working part-time, without much attention to their studies. On the other hand, there are also many students who drop out of the program because they cannot keep up with the classes due to a sloppy curriculum on the part of the host institution.

In any case, they work because they cannot make a living. If that is the case, what is the point of studying in Japan? I think that the study abroad system, which leaves both those who study abroad and those who accept them with challenges, should be better regulated.

Foreign Labor

The government has shown a willingness to accept foreigners in order to secure the labor force. The “Strategy for the Revitalization of Japan,” launched in 2014, aims to increase the employment rate of foreign students to 30 to 50%. Also, as evidenced by the “300,000 Foreign Students Plan,” the government level is proactive in accepting foreign students.

It is true that the Japanese population is decreasing, and we know that various problems will arise in the future. But what about relying on foreigners instead of Japanese? I believe that the attitude of actively trying to secure a foreign labor force is inconsistent with the purpose of the foreign student system, and as a result, causes problems such as the lavish treatment of foreign students and illegal immigration of foreigners.