Japan Plans to Welcome 4,000 Int’ls by 2033
|26 March, 2023
The Japanese government has announced an ambitious goal of attracting 400,000 international students to the country by the year 2033. The announcement was made by Japanese PM Fumio Kishida in the fifth meeting of the Council for the Creation of Future Education. The plan also aims to increase the number of Japanese students studying abroad to 500,000.
Japan has been working to increase its international student population in recent years, with a target of 300,000 by 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted these plans, with many students unable to travel to Japan due to travel restrictions and border closures.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the government is determined to achieve its new target of 400,000 international students by 2033. The plan includes increasing the number of scholarships and financial aid available to international students, as well as expanding English-language instruction and promoting the country's unique culture and traditions.
Prime Minister Kishida emphasized the importance of promoting the English language and cultural education, reviewing residence status, and providing job assistance to international graduates and returning Japanese students to achieve this goal.
Benjamin McCracken, director of JCMU’s Hikone Campus, expressed concerns over whether Japanese universities can support this many students, especially regarding their access to medical support. Kishida also suggested promoting "international exchange with G7 members" to achieve the targets.
According to recent statistics, as of May 1, 2021, the number of international students in Japan was 242,444, which is a 13.3% decrease compared to the previous year. China, Vietnam, and Nepal are the top three countries from which international students come to Japan.
According to McCracken, Japan needs to offer more English-language programmes if it wants to reach its goals. He added that while there is still a lot of interest in the Japanese language, students from the US are becoming less interested in intensive Japanese language learning.
Meanwhile, Japan's ambition to have 500,000 Japanese students studying abroad is also ambitious, but Rossi from Go! Go! Nihon stated that it is unclear how Japan plans to achieve this.
McCracken suggested that universities should ease back on strict schedules and the government should integrate education abroad into degrees before encouraging students to go abroad for full programs. He also suggested that allowing students to study other languages in high school besides English could help.
Kishida's announcement comes after reports that more overseas nationals are staying in Japan than ever before. According to data, over 40% of foreign nationals have lived in Japan for more than three years, and the number of international graduates choosing to stay in Japan is increasing.
However, Japan must offer better visa provisions to compete with other post-study work destinations. Currently, incentives for foreign workers are low, and McCracken suggests lowering taxes or offering other incentives to attract talented individuals.
Although interesting, the plan proposed by Kishida is not enough for inbound or outbound student mobility, as there is no culture of accountability and universities, language schools, and agencies are left to figure out how to reach the targets.
To increase the number of Japanese students studying abroad, the government needs to provide financial support not only for short-term students but also for those pursuing degrees abroad. Kishida indicated that a second recommendation by the education minister Keiko Nagaoka would be made at the end of April.