The government decided Tuesday on draft legislation to screen and certify Japanese-language schools to ensure their quality by setting standards, including on the number of teachers and educational content.
In the legislation, eyed for enforcement in April 2024 after its enactment in the current parliamentary session, the government also requires instructors at certified schools to obtain a new national qualification for teaching Japanese.
The government’s move to strengthen surveillance over Japanese-language schools follows cases of questionable management, such as with one operator that was found to be allegedly making illegal job arrangements for foreign students in 2017.
It is also believed that some schools allowed foreign nationals to enter Japan for work under the guise of being students.
In 2019, the Tokyo University of Social Welfare, which accepted graduates of Japanese-language schools who could not enter other universities due to their poor Japanese skills, was found to have lost contact with more than 1,000 students from overseas in the three years from the fiscal year that began in April 2016.
Under the envisaged new screening system, a certified Japanese-language school needs to meet standards on the number of teachers, the facility’s space and educational content that the education ministry sets according to the number of students and their language levels.
The names of certified schools will be published on the website of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
Schools would be required every fiscal year to report to the ministry the contents of the lessons, the enrollment status of the students and other details.
If the operator’s management is deemed inappropriate, it would be subjected to a corrective order.
To qualify as a registered Japanese-language teacher, an applicant needs to pass a national exam that measures the degree of knowledge and skills required for Japanese-language education. After passing the exam, they need to take on-site training in teaching students.
After the legislation is enacted, the government is expected to require schools to obtain certification if they seek to take in foreign nationals who have come to Japan under the student visa.
As a transitional measure, the government will allow instructors to teach Japanese without the qualification for five years after the enforcement of the law.
As of June 2022, there were 2.96 million foreign residents, up 7.3% from December 2021, of whom 260,767 were in Japan on student visas, according to the Immigration Services Agency.