During the last decade, there has been a steep rise in the number of Japanese language schools in the country. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has revealed that the country now has over 700 exclusive language schools (apart from trade schools and universities that offer Japanese language classes). Based on this data, this is 1.8 times as many as there were ten years ago, as shared in a report by the Japan Times.
With this development comes the fact that a lot of these new schools wouldn’t be established in the first place without a significant number of student enrolees attending them. However, the government is not so fully convinced that such is the case.
Gov’t to fix ‘loopholes’ regarding Foreign Student Visas
Foreigners on student visas are allowed to work for up to 28 hours in a week. That limit can still be raised by an additional eight hours a day during school vacation periods.
At the time being, maintaining a long-term language student visa has certain requirements. For one, the law requires foreigners on student visas to complete at least 760 units over the course of one year (where one unit is equivalent of 45 minutes of in-class instruction).
However, nowadays, some schools offer short-term intensive courses with high number of class hours every week. By availing such programs, some students are able to complete the 760-unit requirement in as short as 6 months. With their visas secured, some of these “students” no longer enrol in any courses for the rest of the year and devote their time in Japan by working eight hours on a daily basis until the next year. This means that some of these students are practically spending as much time working in full-time positions as they should be studying. This situation blurs the line as to whether some foreign students in Japan are staying in the country to study or to be employed.
To rectify this phenomenon, the Japanese government will impose a new set of regulations by October to ensure that language school students remain in school for the rest of their stay in the country.
The said adjustment focuses on shifting the requirement for students to be enrolled in classes for at least 35 weeks throughout the year, and not based on the units they complete.
According to a spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice, the said adjustments aim to restore language schools to their original purpose – as a place where students enrol so that they can learn the Japanese language while in the country.