Japan is a sovereign island nation in East Asia located in the Pacific Ocean; it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian mainland, and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the southwest. The country has the world’s third-largest economy by nominal GDP and the world’s fourth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It is also the world’s fourth-largest exporter and fourth-largest importer. The country benefits from a highly skilled workforce and is among the most highly educated countries in the world, with one of the highest percentages of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree.
The climate of Japan is predominantly temperate, but varies greatly from north to south. Japan’s geographical features divide it into six principal climatic zones: Hokkaido, Sea of Japan, Central Highland, Seto Inland Sea, Pacific Ocean, and Ryukyu Islands. The northernmost zone, Hokkaido, has a humid continental climate with long, cold winters and very warm to cool summers. Precipitation is not heavy, but the islands usually develop deep snow banks in the winter. The average winter temperature in Japan is 5.1 °C (41.2 °F) and the average summer temperature is 25.2 °C (77.4 °F).The main rainy season begins in early May in Okinawa, and the rain front gradually moves north until reaching Hokkaido in late July. In most of Honshu, the rainy season begins before the middle of June and lasts about six weeks. In late summer and early autumn, typhoons often bring heavy rain.
EDUCATION SYSTEM IN JAPAN
In Japan, education is compulsory at the elementary and lower secondary levels. Most students attend public schools through the lower secondary level, but private education is popular at the upper secondary and university levels.
Education prior to elementary school is provided at kindergartens and day-care centers. Public and private day-care centers take children from under age 1 on up to 5 years old. The programmes for those children aged 3–5 resemble those at kindergartens. The educational approach at kindergartens varies greatly from unstructured environments that emphasize play to highly structured environments that are focused on having the child pass the entrance exam at a private elementary school. The academic year starts from April and ends in March, having summer vacation in August and winter vacation in the end of December to the beginning of January. Also, there are few days of holidays between academic years. The period of academic year is same all through elementary level to higher education nationwide.
Japanese students consistently rank highly among OECD students in terms of quality and performance in reading literacy, math, and sciences. The average student scored 540 in reading literacy, math and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the country has one of the world’s highest-educated labour forces among OECD countries. Its populace is well educated and its society highly values education as a platform for social mobility and for gaining employment in the country’s high-tech economy. The country’s large pool of highly educated and skilled individuals is largely responsible for ushering Japan’s post-war economic growth. Tertiary-educated adults in Japan, particularly graduates in sciences and engineering benefit economically and socially from their education and skills in the country’s high tech economy. Spending on education as a proportion of GDP is below the OECD average. Although expenditure per student is comparatively high in Japan, total expenditure relative to GDP remains small.
Diagram: Education System in Japan
STUDY IN JAPAN
1. High educational standards
The OECD ranks Japanese high school students number one in the world for maths, and number 2 for scientific literacy. Japan has the highest number of Nobel prize winners of any Asian country, and the second highest of any country since 2000.. 49% of Japanese High School graduates enter university. Japan has over 700 universities, with 10 ranked in the top 200 worldwide.
2. Varieties of Higher Education
As a foundation of society, Japan provides a wide variety of higher education. In Japan, there are over 700 universities, and nearly 3000 specialty schools. From traditional educational subjects (law, economics, engineering, science and math), to the more modern fields of study (environment, IT, tourism, comics and animation, computers/games), the choices and possibilities are endless.
- Degree of satisfaction after studying abroad in Japan
・73.2% of international students stated that their impression of the country “became better” after living and studying in Japan.
・66.1% of international students stated that their impression of the people “became better” after living and studying in Japan.
・88.0% of international students stated that their impression of their overall experience of studying abroad in Japan was “great” according to research conducted by JASSO based on international students and their impressions while studying in Japan.
- Many scholarship opportunities
A wide range of scholarships are available, both from the university, and from public and private organizations. A limited number of Tsukuba scholarships are available, paying a monthly living allowance, and a travel allowance (first year only). A wide range of other scholarships are available, with some directed towards specific nationalities, women, minorities, or those with high level Japanese proficiency.51.4% of students who come to Japan to study receive a scholarship of some sort according to research conducted by JASSO based on international students studying in Japan.
- Japan is a safe, peaceful place to study
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. Violent crime is rare, with Japan ranking last in the number of victims of crime per capita (nationmaster.com). Japan regularly turns up on lists of the safest places to visit in the world. Japan also has one of the world’s most advanced healthcare systems, reflected in this high life expectancy. Members of the National Health Insurance scheme pay only 30% of their healthcare costs, with a trip to the doctor or dentist often costing only a few hundred yen (few dollars).
- Low Tuition fees
Tuition fees are comparatively cheap in Japan. Tuition fees at Japanese public universities are a mere 535,800 yen (approx $5,500) a year. Furthermore, at Tsukuba the regular entrance fees and first semester tuition fees have been waived for undergraduate English program students. Partial and full tuition fees waivers are even possible for high achieving students from poorer backgrounds.
7. Improving your employability
Study abroad is an impressive part of any resume. Employers value the skills you learn as an international student. As well as the personal growth you will undergo studying in Tsukuba, interacting with your professors, classmates, tutors and friends, will help improve your international awareness and employment opportunities. Internationally aware employees are in strong demand, and many companies actively recruit students with overseas learning experience – especially if they are able to speak a second language. If you choose to return home after graduation, you can be confident that your experience in Tsukuba will help you appeal to high-quality employers, particularly those involved in international business. For this wishing to remain in Japan, there is a strong job market for highly qualified graduates. In a recent survey, around half of the major Japanese companies surveyed expressed a desire to hire foreigners graduating from Japanese institutions.
Cost of Education in Japan
Cost of Education in Japan is varies along with the species of course, institution and location. Majority of the cost to be borne by a student while studying in the country comprises of tuition fees of the course pursued by other expenses.
Following is the approximate estimate of Tuition fees for various levels of courses in Japan:
|Courses||Minimum (in Japanese Yen)||Maximum(in Japanese Yen)|
|Undergraduate||13,00,000 (1st year)||39,00,000 (1st year)|
|Masters||9,00,000 (1st year)||35,00,000 (1st year)|
|Doctoral||8,00,000 (1st year)||13,00,000 (1st year)|
Cost of Living in Japan
International students should have genuine access to sufficient funds based on the assessment level of their Visa. This ensures students ability to make the most of their education and living experience in Japan. Funds projected by the student should cover Tuition, Accommodation, Books, Travel and others.
Eligibility for Japanese university
Foreigners who want to study at a Japanese university must meet the following requirements:
- Have a valid passport
- 12 years of school in your home country or an International Baccalaureate diploma (the German Abitur is also accepted by many universities)
- Proof that you can pay all of your expenses while studying
- Japanese language skills (not technically a requirement, but you will struggle in university courses without a working knowledge of the language)
Foreigners have an easier time getting into Japanese universities than Japanese students; mainly because the Japanese government encourages a diverse university population (the non-Asian population at most universities is still extremely low, however). In addition, the decreasing numbers of young people in Japan are translating into more space at universities.
University application requirements
A typical Japanese university application requires the following items:
- References from professors/teachers
- Proof that you can financially support yourself while studying
- High school transcripts and/or diplomas
- A valid passport
- Passport-size photographs
Don´t think you will be able to apply without taking an entrance exam. While foreign students are not subjected to the sanity-bending rigours of the Japanese exams, they are required to take the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students. This includes academic and language testing, and is offered twice a year (in summer and fall, respectively). If you are applying to a university that requires English language skills and you are not a native English-speaker, you may be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
Once admitted, your university will help you obtain your student visa, mainly by providing you with a Certificate of Eligibility.
Student Visa for Japan
You should apply for the student visa after you get the college acceptance letter. You should begin with the visa process. Following are the documents needed to apply.
1. Application Form
The application form will ask for your personal information, including educational and work history, family information, and your reason for study in Japan. You will have to write the address of your previous schools and workplaces, and the dates that you joined and left. The application form will also have a space for “occupation”. If you are not currently working or a student, just write down “preparing to study in Japan”. Also, there is a section for previous Japanese study. If you have only studied on your own, just write down “self-study”.
You will need to take a passport style photo on a plain background that is 3cm x 4cm. Don not wear any hats or other clothing that covers your head (unless it is for religious reasons). Also, the government recommends that you remove all glasses and do not smile for the photo. The photo should be no older than 3 months, and should not be the same photo that is used on any other kind of ID, such as your passport picture. If you can provide a high-resolution digital photo, that would also be fine.
3. Passport Copy
We will need a scanned copy of the main page of the passport and if you have been to Japan in the past, you should also include copies of your previous entry and exit stamps. If you don’t have a passport, don’t worry! You don’t need one at the time of application but you will need one before you actually leave for Japan. In the meantime you can send a copy of any kind of official government ID instead.
4. School Diploma
You will need to send the official diploma from the last school you graduated from. Technically immigration does not have any minimum age or graduation requirements, but many of the schools do. One thing to keep in mind is that if you haven’t graduated from university yet, you will not be able to get a working visa in Japan as the minimum education requirement for a work visa is a bachelor’s degree. Even if you graduate from a language school, if you don’t have a bachelors degree you won’t be able to get a work visa.
If your goal is to stay and work in Japan you should consider finishing university in your home country or continue with higher education here in Japan.
5. School Transcripts
You will need to provide a full transcript of your last school you graduated. Printouts of online transcripts are also usually fine.
6. Proof of Japanese Study
If you have formally studied Japanese in the past, then you’ll want to provide some sort of proof of that. Usually a course completion certificate or a letter from the school is what they want. Also, if you have ever passed a Japanese level test like the JLPT or NAT Test, you should provide a copy of the results.
Before moving on to the financial documents, we should explain sponsorship. In order to study in Japan, someone has to sponsor you. Although most students work part-time jobs, in theory a sponsor should be able to financially cover the student during their stay in Japan.
There are two sponsorship options:
- Have a family member sponsor you.
- This is the easiest option as immigration will know that the relationship is strong and that they won’t hesitate to help you out. In theory, it is possible for anyone to be a sponsor, but for a non-family member there is a tremendous amount of paperwork needed and even then it’s not a sure thing.
- Be a self-sponsor.
- The financial requirements are stricter for this as you have to show that you have enough savings to cover the school tuition and life expenses for the duration of your study.
No matter which sponsorship option you choose the documentation will be the same.
8. Sponsor’s Bank Balance
Most banks will make a letter showing the current account balance. Some schools will also accept printouts of online banking balances as well.
Probability of Job Opportunities in Japan
Foreign workers looking for a job in Japan will usually find their options fall into two categories: unskilled work and positions which require special skills, like language teachers, international business roles and technology specialists.
Japan has one of the largest economies in the world along with a technologically advanced design and manufacturing industry. You will need to make sure you’re able to get a visa to cover the type of work you want to do in Japan and it’s likely that you will need a high level of Japanese language ability. With little or no Japanese, your best option would be to teach English.
For all positions in Japan it is useful to have experience and in some areas getting a job with an international firm in the UK and transferring to Japan after a couple of years is a good option.
Place for Work
- Major industries:electronics, robotics, motor vehicles, communications, food processing, chemicals, ships, steel and machinery.
- Recent growth areas:nanotechnology, biotechnology, alternative energy, digital marketing.
- Shortage occupations:there are various categories in which you can get a work visa including professor, artist, investor/business manager, legal/accounting services, medical services, researcher, instructor, engineer, specialist in humanities, entertainer or skilled labour.
- Major companies:Mitsubishi, Toyota Motor, Nippon Telegraph and Tel, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Mizuho Financial, Nissan Motor, Honda Motor, Hitachi, Cannon.
Applying for jobs
You will need to make sure you have the correct visa to work in Japan and so you should try to secure a job before you travel. You can also directly contact companies that you are interested in to see if they have any opportunities and to try to build useful contacts.
A CV in Japan is known as a rirekisho. It is typically two to three pages long. You need to provide a summary of your education and details of your future career plans. Many employers provide a rirekisho form for you to complete which has various sections for you to fill in instead of providing your own CV. As well as your education, Japanese employers put a lot of emphasis on your personal attitude and qualities.
It is important to include details of your Japanese language abilities within your application, or if you’re able to, write the whole application in Japanese.
Interviews are quite formal and you may have to go through a process of three or four interviews, each with a different person. Group interviews are also becoming more common. The interviews will tend to focus on how you can fit into the company and it is important that you are polite and show respect for hierarchy.