In March some media outlets reported on the reality of Japanese language schools. Many students enroll with Japanese language schools in order to work. As a result, few students study the language seriously. During the lessons, students spend their time chatting or sleeping, and the schools tolerate this. The underlying cause is that although Japan has a labor shortage, it also has a policy of not accepting immigrants. Since there are strict regulations for granting work visas, Japanese language schools and vocational colleges have been used as a pretext to stay in the country. Most of those working away from home are young people raised in rather poor families in Southeast Asian countries. They come to Japan, paying approximately one million yen to an agent who promises them a prosperous life. Most of them borrow money to pay the agent’s fee. In order to repay their debt, they have to work over the permitted 28 hours a week. To earn their revenue, Japanese language schools persuade students to enroll by providing them with information about part-time jobs. From this April, the designated skilled labor visa allows young people to work without enrolling at a school, so Japanese language schools will have to secure new sources of revenue. However, even under this new system, the links between the agents and the Japanese organizations that accept foreign students is a cause for concern. In addition, the issue of whether or not they actually provide a real Japanese language education has been called into question. On the other hand, Japanese language schools that have provided lessons in good faith are afraid of the impact this will have on them.
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