The Nishinippon Shimbun conducted a questionnaire on the streets of Fukuoka City to learn more about the experiences of international students in Japan. The interviews took place in areas where there are a number of Japanese language schools, specifically around Nishitetsu Ohashi Station (Minami Ward) and JR Yoshizuka Station (Hakata-ku). Japanese college students participated as the reporters asked 34 students (from Nepal, Vietnam, China, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh) about what kind of problems they have encountered and the support that they require.
The respondents, many of whom had come to Fukuoka dreaming of going to college and finding employment, spoke about their struggles in Japan, the high cost of living (compared to that in their home countries), as well as how the work restrictions placed on international students have impacted their lives. More than 70% of the students wanted a review of work regulations. One Sri Lankan man told reporters that the salary from his part-time job was not enough to cover his living expenses and that he had to borrow money from friends. The student in question also stated that obeying the 28-hour weekly work limit would mean that he could not afford school fees. But some respondents did not see the need to review work regulations, with one Nepalese man stating that although he wanted to earn money, his main reason to be in Japan was to study. Another male student from Nepal said that he received financial support from home. Another issue that came up was the difficulty of making friends with Japanese locals, with some students too busy to build new relationships. About 40% of students interviewed said that they “do not have close relationships to Japanese people,” which highlights that there has been a lack of integration.
Plan to Increase the Number of International Students to 300,000
As part of the government’s global strategy to “make Japan a country open to the world”, there is a plan to increase the number of international students to 300,000 by 2020. In 2008, the Yasuo Fukuda administration advocated the need to create an environment that would make it easier for international students to come to Japan. The number of private-sector international students from developing countries such as Nepal and Vietnam has been increasing since that time. Ministry of Justice statistics revealed that in June 2016, there were 257,739 international students nationwide (about 1.4 times more than 2011) and 23,713 people across Kyushu’s seven prefectures (about 1.2 times more than 2011).
New Era of Immigration in Kyushu
The number of workers from abroad, including international students and technical interns in Japan, exceeded one million for the first time last year. This group of people form an indispensable component of the workforce, irrespective of the government’s position on immigration. Read more installments from this series here.