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Foreign students in Japan struggle to stay and study amid Covid-19 pandemic

10 May 2020 No Comment

Japan had opened up to foreign students since it sought to expand its skilled workforce in the situation of an aging society. According to the Japan Student Services Organization, the number of foreign students in the country reached above 310,000 in 2019, up from 164,000 in 2011, and exceeding a national government goal of attracting 300,000 by 2020.

This rapid growth was almost achieved by the increase of self-supported students from other Asian countries, particularly from poor ones.

Now that the government policy is being tested as Covid-19 pandemic changes the retail and entertainment industries, which robs many international students of part-time jobs that help to fund their lives in the country.

Some study abroad schools and agents have recruited students from poorer countries in Asia, encouraged them to study in Japan at the same time carry out part-time jobs. Unlike the U.S. or Canada, Japan allows foreign students to work up to 28 hours each week, which is longer than they are permitted to work in some other countries such as the U.K and Australia.

In fact, some Japanese language schools have been taking foreign students on the premise that they will be able to do part-time jobs to earn a living as well as pay their tuition fees.

According to a survey made by JASSO, 76% of foreign students in Japan have part-time jobs. The restaurant business, which has suffered from chronic labor shortage for some time, is the biggest beneficiary of this pool of workers.

Working foreign students are important for some understaffed industries and have also contributed to the economy of the whole country. However, the government’s support is limited under the Covid-19 crisis.

Some universities have launched programs independently to help struggling students. For example, Tokyo’s Waseda University offered 100,000 yen to each of its students while Kyoto Sangyo University gave 50,000 yen.

Foreign students can benefit from the recent decision of Japanese government to hand out 100,000 yen to all residents, but they need stable employment support.

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