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The Japanese government has just issued an outline of ways to increase the number of foreign students in Japan from 118 500, at the present, to 300 000 students by 2020. The outline was compiled by the Japanese Ministry of Education and five other relevant ministries and agencies, with the aim to create a “Japan that is open to the world”. As part of this strategy to attract excellent exchange students to Japan, around 30 Japanese universities, selected by the government, shall serve as hubs for the programme, where students will earn degrees by studying in English only. In addition, the plan aspires to on the one hand, increase the number of overseas Japanese language study centres and on the other hand, make Japan a more appealing place for foreign students to live, by easing visa requirements and creating job opportunities for them in Japan, after graduation.
The act of increasing the number of exchange students is also linked to the efforts to stimulate the internationalisation of Japan’s universities and to the university reform at the national level. Furthermore, Tsutomu Kimura, the chairman of the Special Committee on Foreign Students (Central Council for Education, Subcommittee on Universities), considers this opening to be fundamental for Japan, in the interests of national security. He also emphasised the need for more foreign students in specific fields of study, such as engineering, science, medicine and agriculture.