``The government treats international students lightly.'' Japanese language school, officials angry … Reality that stands out with a sense of mission

International students studying at a Japanese language school. Other classrooms were empty due to immigration restrictions = February 25, Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City

 The new coronavirus border measures will be eased from the 1st, and it will be possible to enter the country for purposes other than tourism, such as international students. Japanese language schools, whose number of students is directly linked to their business situation, are preparing to accept them, but there is a limit of 5,000 people entering the country per day, and it is not possible to predict when the school will reach its capacity. The mutation of the virus in the future is also an unstable element. The reality is that they are finally holding out with a sense of mission to "cultivate human resources who will be involved with Japan in the future." "Iroha Japanese Language School" in Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City. The students are writing sentences mixed with kanji in an accustomed manner. About 60 people from Vietnam, South Korea, India, etc. are studying here. The two schools we operate have a total capacity of 430 students. Empty classrooms line up, and about 350 people are waiting to enter the country. Principal Taiki Nagata says, "There are expectations, but there are a mountain of problems on the ground." In addition to the procedures for visa issuance, securing a place to wait after entering the country, and arranging lodgings and home appliances are all rushing. It is also necessary to recruit Japanese-language teachers who have left the school due to the drastic decrease in the number of students.

 The "custom" of students from the same country giving advice on classes and life to juniors has also disappeared, and the burden on the school side to provide guidance is likely to increase. In the first place, it is not even possible to predict when they will enter the country, and Principal Nagata is at a loss as to what kind of classes should be given to students who come in the same way. "Students have deep concerns." At the time, when the government did not know when the restrictions would be eased, there were heartbreaking voices saying, "If you can't do it, just say no." A prospective student from the UK complained, "There are students from Japan who are studying in the UK, so why can't I go?" Foreigners who have learned Japanese will continue to be involved with Japan in some way in the future, regardless of whether they are in Japan or overseas. "They are important human resources for Japan, and I want them to understand that they are wasting precious time with immigration restrictions." It is a wish common to those involved in Japanese language education. "It's not just the Japan of the future that needs them." The school has received inquiries about admission prospects from businesses where students worked part-time. Convenience store cash register, hotel and hospital bed sheets washing, lunch box cooking... Today, they support various workplaces in Japanese society. Due to the impact of immigration restrictions, some schools are making ends meet with advance payments for prospective students. School officials in Fukuoka Prefecture are indignant. "If the infection spreads, I can't shake the anxiety that immigration will be restricted again. I can only think that the government looks down on international students and Japanese language schools." (Toru Morii)

Immigration restrictions for international students

 In December 2020, the government suspended all new entry into Japan due to the spread of the new coronavirus. The entry restrictions on international students were eased on November 8, 2021, but were banned again on the same day, due to the rapid expansion of Omicron stocks. After that, government-sponsored international students were allowed to enter the country as an exception. There were 227,844 foreigners with student status as of the end of June 2021, down about 118,000 from the end of 2019, before the pandemic.

Last update: Nishinihon Shimbun