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Discriminatory govt financial assistance for students: All Japanese can apply, but foreign students must be in top 30% of class. MEXT’s rationale: “Many NJ students go home anyway and don’t contribute to Japan’s future.”

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Hi Blog.  Debito.org Reader TJL forwards a message from an Indian exchange student in Tokyo.  It seems that making sure no foreign resident leaves Japan (because only foreigners won’t be let back in, even if they’re Permanent Residents) isn’t enough hardship — now Japan is making it more difficult for them to live here.  Jobs are disappearing with the pandemic, affecting the arubaito economy and students in particular.  So the Ministry of Education (MEXT) has launched a program to assist all students in Japan in financial distress, with up to 200,000 yen cash paid out.  That is, unless they’re ryuugakusei (foreign exchange students).  Even though foreign students already face enough hurdles to their success and stability of life in Japan, MEXT has decided only the NJ who are in the top 30% of their class qualify.  (Naturally, Japanese slacker students need not worry — they’re all part of the tribe.)

MEXT’s justification, according to the Kyodo article below, is “いずれ母国に帰る留学生が多い中、日本に将来貢献するような有為な人材に限る要件を定めた”, or “In any case, what with many exchange students returning to their home countries, we decided to limit applications only to those promising people of talent who will be contributing to Japan’s future.”  Boy, that’s full of presumptions.  Read on.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

///////////////////////////////////

Indian Exchange Student:  You may have read in the news that the GoJ wants to support students with extra financial assistance (of up to 200,000 Yen) as part-time jobs have evaporated. BUT, the govt has drafted different rules for Japanese vs. foreigner students. While ALL Japanese students are eligible to apply, the govt has decided to hold foreigner students to a high standard of academic performance (as a cut-off).

This double-standard in rules is surprising, given how ALL students have suffered due to lack of jobs and how many foreigner students in Japan (the bulk of whom have no scholarships) will suffer. This discrimination is also appalling, especially when Japan seeks to position itself as a destination for foreigner students.

There is a link to an online petition, as well as a link to the MEXT inquiry page. If you or your friends feel like supporting the cause of foreigner students (since many of you came to Japan as students yourselves), please sign the petition and help the foreigner students!

= = =(Message)===

You can sign a petition and donate here for foreign students. It is immoral for the Japanese government to treat foreign students differently from Japanese nationals and to determine the receipt of financial support based on academic performance for foreign students only. I donated a small amount to support: 

Petition:
https://www.change.org/p/%E6%96%87%E9%83%A8%E7%A7%91%E5%AD%A6%E7%9C%81-%E7%95%99%E5%AD%A6%E7%94%9F%E5%85%A8%E5%93%A1%E3%81%AB%E7%8F%BE%E9%87%91%E7%B5%A6%E4%BB%98%E3%82%92%E3%81%97%E3%81%A6%E4%B8%8B%E3%81%95%E3%81%84?fbclid=IwAR26tIT8WQCfz3x1EH-xBffKaTwHhLRVPwwwzTENUN8rezFXx7vqss01aRs

MEXT inquiry page (where you can voice your opinion in Japanese):

https://www.inquiry.mext.go.jp/inquiry24/

Statement in Japanese:

コロナ対策の学生への最大20万円の現金給付ですが、文部科学省が外国人留学生に限っては成績上位3割程度のみに限るとのことです。

参考ニュース:https://this.kiji.is/635796561105159265
======================
現金給付、留学生は上位3割限定
文科省、成績で日本人学生と差
共同通信 2020/5/20

新型コロナウイルスの影響で困窮する学生らに最大20万円の現金を給付する支援策を巡り、文部科学省が外国人留学生に限って成績上位3割程度のみとする要件を設け、大学などへ伝えたことが20日、同省への取材で分かった。アルバイト収入の減少などは日本人学生らと同じ状況にありながら、学業や生活を支える支給に差をつける形となり、論議を呼びそうだ。

文科省は「いずれ母国に帰る留学生が多い中、日本に将来貢献するような有為な人材に限る要件を定めた」と説明。対象者の審査は各大学などが行うため、同省が示した要件を満たさない学生らでも給付対象になる可能性はあるとしている。
======================

コロナによる学生の生活困窮に国籍は関係ありません。これは差別的な行為であり、外国人留学生の人権を無視したものです。日本人と同じ基準で支給するよう文部科学省に求めます。

・日本人は成績に関わらず支給するのに、外国人のみ成績要件を設けるという、差をつける措置は人種差別です。

・生活の困窮に成績は関係ありません。これは「役に立たない者は生きる価値なし」と能力によって生きる権利に差をつけるものです。

・留学生の中には家族が借金をして日本へ送り出す資金を作りバイトでぎりぎりの生活費を稼ぎながら学習するなど経済的に困難な状況の学生が多く、またそのような学生は上位の成績を取りづらい状況にあります。

・日本がここ20年ほど留学生受け入れを増やす政策を取っており「日本に学びに来てください」と学生を呼んでおきながら、「生活費がないなら勝手に帰国しろ」といわれて帰った学生は帰国後に日本のことをどう話すでしょうか?これは世界における日本の評価を著しく下げる行為です。

以上の理由から、外国人留学生に日本人と別の基準を設けることは不適切だと考えます。

下記に文部科学省の問い合わせフォームがあります。

署名だけでなく、多くの人が文部科学省に意見を送っていただけるとより声が届くと思います。

ENDS

////////////////////////////////////////

UPDATE:  More conditions for Foreign Exchange Students mentioned in the article below, underlined.

Only top 30% of foreign students to be eligible for gov’t handouts

KYODO NEWS KYODO NEWS – May 21, 2020

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/05/5d7d3c646139-only-top-30-of-foreign-students-to-be-eligible-for-govt-handouts.html

The Japanese government has set an additional criteria for foreign students hoping to receiving cash handouts of up to 200,000 yen ($1,900) for students in the country struggling financially amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, making only those in the top 30 percent of grades eligible.

The additional condition, which will create a gap in the financial support for students facing hardship in paying for tuition or living costs, has sparked criticism as many foreign students experience the same challenges as their Japanese counterparts.

Members of a student advocacy group that has been calling on the government to reduce school expenses called the decision “complete discrimination.” On Twitter, a Japanese hashtag meaning “The education ministry should give all foreign exchange students the cash handout” has also been gaining traction.

In explaining its decision, the education ministry has said, “With many foreign students eventually returning to their home countries, we have set a condition to limit the handout to promising talent most likely to contribute to Japan in the future.”

As the government will rely on institutions to determine which of their students should receive the assistance, those not meeting the criteria may still be eligible for the handouts, it said.

Education minister Koichi Hagiuda indicated that students from overseas would be eligible for the program during a press conference Tuesday, when he announced that cash handouts would be provided to around 430,000 university and other students in Japan.

But he made no mention of the additional criteria foreign students needed to fulfill, which only came to light during communication with universities and other institutions.

According to the ministry, requirements for program eligibility include a reduction of over 50 percent in the monthly income from part-time jobs used to support tuition fees and, in general, a yearly allowance of less than 1.5 million yen from family. The student must also be living outside of home.

In addition, foreign students must be achieving high marks and have attained a grade point average of at least 2.30 in the past academic year. This accounts for the top 25 to 30 percent of students, the ministry said.

Foreign students must also have a monthly attendance rate of over 80 percent, receive less than an average 90,000 yen allowance per month excluding registration and tuition fees, and not be a dependent of someone in Japan earning more than 5 million yen a year.

On top of the conditions, those “deemed by their institutions as unable to continue their studies due to financial difficulties” will be eligible for the handouts, the ministry said.

In order to quickly provide assistance, the government has left the screening of eligible students to each institution. Universities and other schools will select eligible students from a pool comprised of Japan Student Services Organization scholarship recipients and other records.

The education ministry has not calculated what percentage of the roughly 430,000 students eligible for the program are foreigners.

Koki Saito, a university student and student advocacy group member, said foreign students are in just as dire need of help but unlike their Japanese counterparts have to face a grade eligibility requirement.

“The government has been taking steps to attract foreign students but when things go wrong, are you going to drop them? This may become an international issue, and I want this requirement scrapped,” Saito said.

May 21, 2020 | KYODO NEWS

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25 comments on “Discriminatory govt financial assistance for students: All Japanese can apply, but foreign students must be in top 30% of class. MEXT’s rationale: “Many NJ students go home anyway and don’t contribute to Japan’s future.”

  • I wrote this as feedback to the MEXT site:
    https://www.inquiry.mext.go.jp/inquiry24/

    困窮する学生らに最大20万円の現金を給付する支援策の件ですが、報道された現状に対して反対です。

    共同通信によると、文科省は「いずれ母国に帰る留学生が多い中、日本に将来貢献するような有為な人材に限る要件を定めた」と説明した。それは差別発言です。なぜなら、留学生の将来について予言するのは無理があり、留学生は日本で勉強しているままのみで既に日本の将来に貢献している。例えば、大学に学費を支払いしたり、税金を支払いしたり、交際で日本学生の視野を広げている、など。

    日本人学生と留学生を区別せず、平等に給付対象にして下さい。外国人留学生に限って成績上位3割程度のみとする政策を廃止することを要望します。

    Reply
  • Todd Jay Leonard says:

    Thank you for blogging about this discriminatory policy, Debito. Let’s hope the Ministry will see how absurd it is through your efforts and scrap this ridiculous policy.

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Well, many will go home and not contribute to Japan after this discrimination. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Reply
  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    How do they decide who is “foreign”?

    There are obviously MEXT scholarship recipients being invited from overseas, but there are also people of foreign nationality who take the ordinary entrance exam and enter the same way that locals do, particularly at the postgraduate level.

    The condition 日本に将来貢献するような有為な人材に限る (“only capable people who can contribute to Japan’s future”) would be particularly galling if a postgrad who was already contributing to Japanese society as a taxpayer were excluded, purely because s/he had grades that were only in the top 31% of the class and not the top 30%.

    If the targets of this policy are specifically international students coming to Japan on scholarships and student visas (i. e. people who have not yet begun to make significant contributions to Japanese society), that’s bad enough, but if it’s anyone with a non-Japanese passport, that’s a lot worse.

    — Great points. Say so on MEXT’s website.

    Reply
  • Thank you, Debito, for sharing this story! Special thanks to Todd san for passing on my message. This statement is so preposterous, not to mention downright racist, that it riles me to no end.

    Reply
  • Loverilakkuma says:

    Just signed off and made my contribution to the campaign.

    The MEXT is famous for making a pie-in-the-sky, self-fulfilling promise that rarely bears fruit. Their education policy and practice(especially in K-12) primarily inculcate the superiority of ethnocentricity into Japanese students —rather than diversity. I have an issue with their treatment of students in the matrix of high/low skills because that clearly stands against the principle of equal education opportunity.
    Moving the goalpost for international students to impose this merit-based system is a clear red flag. Hagiuda should be called out for this racist sham.

    Reply
  • Not surprising. The even bigger human rights issue is that those married to a Japanese national cannot re-enter Japan however the spouse and children can. Japan not only believes it is OK to discriminate against students but the separation of families is ok.
    Debito-san this should be the topic of an article somewhere (even in the paper you are now writing for).

    Reply
    • Jaocnanoni says:

      This! Just to speak of my personal possible worst case. Both my parents are in their 70s with several medical conditions. If one of them passes away while this overzealous border regime is in effect I couldn’t even go to the funeral. If I’d go anyway, I’d loose my livelihood because I couldn’t get back to home, family, and work. To me this border regime is the most disgusting one of Japan’s botched responses. I wonder if it does actually warrant a Dejima Award to the ministry of justice, which I suppose is responsible for this cruel bs.

      Reply
      • Jaocnanoni – My opinion is that this warrants the Dejima award of the decade.
        Debito had personal experience with a private business in Otaru several decades ago. You would think over the period of several decades Japan would have improved.
        No…..instead what Japan has done is Japan has taken what a private business did to Debito and codified this into LAW. This is separation of families which is now actually codified into Japanese law.
        Imagine a family with small kids. They are returning to Japan and mom (or dad) and the kids can return to Japan but the other spouse cannot. This is an unforgettable message which would be delivered to the children (and the spouse). Mom (or dad) is OK because they are Japanese but your other parent is dirty, or unworthy of re-entering Japan.
        I have been in Japan well over 2 decades and during my time in Japan this is the absolute worst human rights issue I have seen; nothing even comes close.
        It has literally turned friends and acquaintances of mine who liked Japan (some were extreme apologists) into people that despise Japan. It is rather sad to see … it is what I would expect from China or North Korea.

        Reply
        • Baudrillard says:

          This. It has literally turned friends and acquaintances of mine who liked Japan (some were extreme apologists) into people that despise Japan. It is rather sad to see … it is what I would expect from China or North Korea.

          Once again, supporters of Japan leave as detractors of Japan. Slow hand clap.

          Reply
  • UPDATE: More conditions have come to light thanks to Kyodo News’s investigative journalism:
    “According to the ministry, requirements for program eligibility include a reduction of over 50 percent in the monthly income from part-time jobs used to support tuition fees and, in general, a yearly allowance of less than 1.5 million yen from family. The student must also be living outside of home.

    “In addition, foreign students must be achieving high marks and have attained a grade point average of at least 2.30 in the past academic year. This accounts for the top 25 to 30 percent of students, the ministry said. Foreign students must also have a monthly attendance rate of over 80 percent, receive less than an average 90,000 yen allowance per month excluding registration and tuition fees, and not be a dependent of someone in Japan earning more than 5 million yen a year. On top of the conditions, those “deemed by their institutions as unable to continue their studies due to financial difficulties” will be eligible for the handouts, the ministry said.”

    Full Kyodo article at https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/05/5d7d3c646139-only-top-30-of-foreign-students-to-be-eligible-for-govt-handouts.html
    Or if link is behind a paywall by now, page back up to this blog entry, where it is reproduced in full.

    Reply
  • Max Gonzalez says:

    Will sign and distribute to friends who are studying or DID study in Japan.
    To quote an issue of Amazing Spider-Man, it’s hard to stand on your own two feet when your legs keep getting kicked out from under you.

    Reply
  • Ironically, only the bottom 20% will end up staying very long in Japan after graduation because everyone else will have job opportunities in countries that won’t treat them as second class, and glass-ceiling their career track.

    Reply
  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    Meanwhile, certain elements of the domestic media are using headlines that make make the U.S.’s practice of not giving financial assistance to overseas students appear to target Japanese students specifically.

    https://news.headlines.auone.jp/stories/international/international/13399520?genreid=55&subgenreid=151&articleid=13399520&cpid=10130000&rf=passtop_%E3%83%8B%E3%83%A5%E3%83%BC%E3%82%B9

    I also can’t help but get a giggle out of the photo the article uses – Cambridge University, U.K.!

    Reply
  • This is sickening. And as someone who is IN THE WORK of supporting foreign students and Japanese students in Japan, I can only recommend all foreign students reconsider ever coming to study in Japan for serious studies if this is how quickly Japan and MEXT will abandon support during times of need.

    Disgusting discrimination, especially considering foreign students are those that usually have the LEAST support in Japan.

    Reply
  • On the go says:

    I have been told the incoming students who were supposed to start studying at Japanese universities from April on MEXT governmental scholarships have their visas rescinded and their studies cancelled (not postponed). You can probably seek for more information in this avenue as well.

    Reply
  • Kudos to Kobe city for offering volunteer jobs and allowances to foreign students in need of work.

    West Japan city to offer volunteer jobs and allowances to foreign students in need of work
    May 27, 2020 (Mainichi Japan)

    KOBE — The Kobe city government announced on May 25 that it will introduce foreign students to volunteer work and also pay them an allowance to help them get by during the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered schools and many businesses where students work part-time.

    【Related】Foreign graduates in Japan can’t leave due to virus, can’t work due to visas
    【Related】2 Vietnamese students in limbo due to coronavirus tell of hardship being stuck in Japan
    【Related】Nagoya recycling firm to offer part-time jobs to foreign students in need of work

    Kobe, capital of western Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, plans to recruit around 100 people to engage in volunteer work from June to August. The tasks include checking information signs along hiking paths and reporting if they are easy to understand from the viewpoint of a foreigner, as well as cleaning parks, among other jobs. Students will work three hours a day and be given an honorarium of 3,500 yen for their work, and to help with food expenses and transportation. The city expects to have about 10 of these volunteering days per month.

    A large number of foreign students who graduated from Japanese language schools and other institutions in late March can neither go home due to flight cancellations, nor work legally after they have converted their residency statuses from student to short-term stay. Because they cannot be compensated for labor, these individuals will receive a smaller sum of 2,000 yen a day from the city, to cover their food and transport expenses.

    A total of 8,091 foreign students lived in Kobe and attended local universities and Japanese language schools as of the end of March, according to the city’s international affairs section. A lot of students pay tuition and meet their living expenses with part-time work, but the pandemic has forced many businesses — especially in the hospitality industry — to close. The national government is considering supporting students with handouts of 100,000 or 200,000 yen each, but eligibility will be determined by academic performance and other limiting factors.

    Dao Thi Hai Van, 24, a Vietnamese student who studies at a Japanese language school in Kobe’s Hyogo Ward, said, “I’m glad to hear about the volunteer recruitment. It’s been a difficult time since part-time work opportunities have decreased. I can also learn more Japanese as I’ll have more chances to talk with Japanese people.”

    Yoshihisa Saito, an associate professor at Kobe University’s graduate school who is an expert on foreign student issues, commented, “The national government has accepted foreign students into the country, with expectations for them to be de facto workers. Although the scale of support given out by Kobe cannot be said to be enough, the fact that they took immediate measures as a local authority is to be commended.”

    (Japanese original by Kwanghoon Han, Kobe Bureau)
    ENDS

    Japanese version
    神戸市が留学生支援 ボランティアでの受け入れ先紹介し謝礼 約100人募集
    毎日新聞2020年5月25日
    https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200525/k00/00m/040/290000c

     新型コロナウイルスの影響で困窮する外国人留学生らを支援しようと、神戸市は25日、ボランティアの受け入れ先を紹介し、謝礼や食費を支払う事業を始めると発表した。100人程度を募集する予定で、6月から8月まで従事してもらう。日本語学校などを卒業後、帰国もアルバイトもできない外国人らの支援が課題になっていた。

     市が募集するボランティアは、外国人の目線でハイキング道の案内サインの分かりやすさを確認したり、公園を清掃したりするなどの作業。1日3時間で謝礼や食費、交通費として3500円を支給し、月10回程度を想定する。3月末に日本語学校などを卒業し、在留資格を「短期滞在ビザ」に切り替えた人には、謝礼が支払えないため、食費と交通費として1日2000円のみとなる。

     市国際課によると、大学や日本語学校などで学ぶ市内在住の留学生は8091人(3月末現在)。多くが学費と生活費をアルバイトで工面するが、接客業を中心に休業が相次いでいる。また、短期滞在ビザに変更した人は就労できない。国は困窮する大学生に10万円か20万円の支援を検討するが、留学生は学業成績などの要件があり、対象者は限られる。

     神戸市兵庫区の日本語学校に通うベトナム人留学生のダオ・ティ・ハイ・バンさん(24)は「アルバイトが減って大変なので、ボランティアの募集はうれしい。日本人と話す機会が増え、日本語の勉強もできる」と喜ぶ。

     留学生問題に詳しい神戸大大学院の斉藤善久准教授は「国は実質的な労働者として期待して、留学生を受け入れてきた。神戸市の支援規模では十分とはいえないが、自治体としていち早く動いた点は評価できる」と話した。【韓光勲】

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    That is good. And kudos to Saito for calling out the government. Kobe City is at least (even if only out of rational self-interest) trying to address the reality of the situation instead of using word games and denial.

    Reply

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