International Student Migrant Workers
Japanese Language School On Depopulated Island (#3 of 7 part series)
There is a Japanese language school on a small island located 380 kilometers south of Kagoshima with a population of just 44,000 people. The school has international students from Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines, a number of whom work in yakitori restaurants and other similar jobs. The population of the island has been decreasing, with around 200 young people leaving each year. But with school fees and accommodation significantly cheaper than Tokyo, international students are benefitting from a lower cost of living on the island.
Japanese language schools opening in areas with declining populations has been something of a trend in Kyushu. The first of its kind in the country, 2015 saw a Japanese language school supported by an industry-academic-government cooperation open in Saga Prefecture with a student intake of around 90. Saga made approximately 14 million yen in subsidies available for the school last year. Half of the cost of Japanese teachers’ salaries were to be subsidized while the top performing 25% of the international students were set to receive a scholarship of ¥20,000 per month.
Tensions have spilled over between some international students and local communities in the past. The ratio of the international community compared to Tosu City’s general population stands at around 1.3%, the fourth highest in Kyushu. In order to deepen understanding and facilitate interaction, the city has been hosting exchange programs between international residents and locals. There have also been more opportunities for international students to participate in disaster prevention drills and cultural festivals.
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.