NILS Fukuoka Times

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What’s Happening Now in Fukuoka & Japan March 2024


More foreign students set to be eligible for Japan gov’t scholarships – Nationwide

The Japanese government plans to expand the scope of foreign university students eligible for its scholarships from April to provide more academic opportunities to children of the country’s growing number of foreign workers, according to officials. The education ministry is set to include in the target students who are residing in the country with their parents under a “dependent” visa on condition they have completed education through elementary, junior high and high school level in Japan and intend to work and stay in the country after graduating from university, they said.

The scholarships, provided by the Japan Student Services Organization, are currently only available to Japanese citizens and foreign nationals with visas as special permanent residents, permanent residents or long-term residents who intend to stay in Japan permanently. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology expects that around 500 to 1,000 students would be newly eligible for the scholarships, which come in the form of a grant or loan, they said.

Lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party had been calling on the government to expand academic support for foreign children as the country looks to secure foreign labour amid the declining population. Civic groups, including the nongovernmental organization Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, have also called for an expansion, noting that children of foreign workers tend to face financial difficulties.

Toru Takahashi, a steering member of the group, said he welcomes the government’s plan to expand the scholarships but that requiring students to complete 12 years of education in Japan is likely to be too harsh a condition as it means children will need to be living in Japan before first grade to become eligible.

The number of foreign workers in Japan as of the end of last October topped 2 million for the first time, hitting a record 2,048,675 foreign workers, up 12.4 percent from the previous year, according to labour ministry data. In line with the increase in foreign workers, those who have entered Japan under a “dependent” visa came to 244,890 as of the end of June 2023, up 7.5 percent from the previous year, the Immigration Services Agency of Japan data showed.

Extension of Hokuriku Shinkansen line opens, boosting tourism hopes – Fukui Prefecture

An extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line connecting Kanazawa and Tsuruga in central Japan opened, establishing bullet train services in Fukui Prefecture for the first time and carrying hopes for a tourism boost in areas hit by the New Year’s Day earthquake. The new section shortens travel time between Tokyo and the city of Fukui by 33 minutes to as fast as 2 hours and 51 minutes. Passengers now no longer must transfer to high-speed and limited express trains after Kanazawa.

The 125-kilometer section from Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture to Tsuruga in Fukui adds six new stations to the shinkansen line. Two are in Ishikawa — Komatsu and Kaga Onsen stations — while the other four are Awara Onsen, Fukui, Echizen-Takefu and Tsuruga stations, all in Fukui.

Headed to Kanazawa, Satoshi Masuda, a 37-year-old resident of Shizuoka Prefecture, said he is traveling for pleasure and to bring cheer to areas hit by the Noto Peninsula quake in Ishikawa. In a separate commemorative ceremony at Tokyo Station, Minami Hamabe, an Ishikawa native actress who appeared in the Oscar-winning “Godzilla Minus One,” expressed hope that people would feel closer to the Hokuriku region in central Japan and create memories during trips there. Eizo Nishiyama, who arrived in Tokyo from the city of Fukui, said he can now easily visit the capital to see his family. “There’s no need to switch trains and the speed is so much different,” said the 63-year-old.

The Kagayaki and Hakutaka trains, which directly link Tokyo and Tsuruga, will make 14 total round trips per day. The extension is part of a 1973 government plan to build shinkansen lines across the nation. Under the plan, the Hokuriku Shinkansen line is scheduled to eventually extend to Osaka, but the start of construction has yet to be set due to delays in environmental assessments.


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