Japan Alumni eNews (Vol. 132)

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 132 April 10, 2020

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 132

1. Life in Japan by Photo

Learn about life in Japan with photos posted by our readers! We look forward to receiving memorable photos of your experiences in Japan, including your student life, exposure to Japanese culture and history, travel, and more.

1. Photo title (15 characters or less)
2. Name (katakana and alphabet)
3. Nationality
4. Name of your school in Japan

April in Japan

The April edition of Life in Japan by Photo introduces “April in Japan.”

Cherry Blossom Trees Along the River

Cherry Blossom Trees Along the River

New Employees

New Employees

Whitebait bowl

Whitebait bowl

Violet Flower

Violet Flower

2. Alumni News

Bringing you news and first-hand stories about international students!

News on International Students

NEWS 1: Japan, an Asian Country Included in “Soft Power 30” Top 10

The 2019 version of the “Soft Power 30” rankings, an index that evaluates countries based on their “soft power,” was released in a joint announcement by the UK consulting company Portland Communications and the University of Southern California in the U.S. Soft power refers to the levels of trust attained by a country through “soft power resources” like culture or political values. The “Soft Power 30” rankings are based on data from six areas (digital, culture, enterprise, engagement, education, and government) for each country, as well as a survey of 12,500 people in 25 countries across the world. The results for 2019 had France in 1st place, the U.K. in 2nd place, and Germany in 3rd place, with Japan coming in 8th place. Though Japan fell in the rankings from its 5th place spot in 2018, it nevertheless boasted high scores in the engagement, digital, and enterprise categories, as well as the culture category.

NEWS 2: FY2020 Hiring Estimates for International Students Greatly Surpasses Rate of Hire in FY2019

DISCO Corporation conducted a survey of 14,509 major Japanese companies regarding the hiring of international students enrolled in Japanese universities/graduate schools, the hiring/utilization of highly-skilled foreign professionals in Japan, and relevant issues, etc. The results showed that hiring prospects for new-graduate international students in FY2020 (50.6%) would greatly surpass their actual rate of hire in FY2019 (34.8%). This number was especially high for companies with more than 1,000 employees, at 68.2%. As for the skills they wanted from international students, the most frequent response was “Japanese language skills,” followed by “communication skills.”

NEWS 3: For Foreigners Working in Companies (Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)

On its website, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has published information about the novel coronavirus for foreign nationals currently employed in Japan. Entitled “For Foreigners Working in Companies,” the article starts by stating that “Even when the new coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused a decrease in business for the company, foreign workers are not allowed to be treated less favorably than Japanese workers just because they are foreigners.” Then, following this message, it lists details regarding leave allowances, paid vacations days, and other rules that companies have to follow.

Study Abroad Testimonial

Andrei Herinean

Name: Andrei Herinean
Nationality: Romania
University: Kobe University
Major: Linguistics Major, Graduate School of Humanities (First-Term Doctoral Program)
Period of Study: October 2018 to present
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese-Language Proficiency Test N2

The first time I came to Japan was back in the spring of 2015, when I arrived at Kobe University as an exchange student. It turned out to be one year full of wonderful experiences; however, once I returned to Romania, I realized that there was so much more I wanted to do and to learn in Japan.

As such, I applied for a MEXT research scholarship. It was a challenging task. In the end, I succeeded and, finally, in 2018, I returned to Kobe. This time, it was as a research student at Kobe University, studying linguistics. I then passed the entrance exam for the Graduate School of Humanities and I will become an MA student starting in April 2020.

My study is focused on “role language” in manga and anime. This is a relatively new field in linguistics and it concerns the peculiarities and typologies of character language: for instance, samurai language, businessman language, gangster language, and so on. I am interested in how it affects people learning Japanese by themselves and whether it can be used as a medium for teaching Japanese.

The School of Humanities (and the entire university, for that matter) offer me all I could possibly need when it comes to my research. Besides all the libraries and the online networks I can use, there are several perfect places for study, such as our research rooms and reading rooms. Not to mention, that’s only for when I’m studying. The campus is itself an amazing place and there’s a lot to explore, from spectacular sights to historical buildings to tiny wild boars randomly strutting around.

I’m not quite sure yet what I will do after graduation, though I am positive it will be related to Japan. Kobe in particular has become a second home to me and I look forward to allowing more and more Romanians to discover its beauty.

List of Japan Alumni Associations

Introduction of Support for International Students Returning Home

Hokkaido University Ambassador and Partner System

Hokkaido University established the Hokkaido University Ambassador and Partner (HUAP) System in FY2016. The university uses this system to designate those who provide the bulk of the support in various countries/regions (mainly leaders of alumni associations for former international students) as “Hokkaido University Ambassadors,” and those who work more flexibly and provide support to the Ambassadors as “Hokkaido University Partners” (currently 180 people in 36 countries). These Ambassadors and Partners are asked to participate in the general internationalization of the university, and provide support to former Hokkaido University international students who have since returned to their countries.

3. Academic News

Introduction of scholarships, grants, unique activities at particular universities, and more!

Introducing Universities

Here we introduce you to particular faculties and graduate schools at Japanese universities.

Gakushuin University

Gakushuin University Main Gate

University Profile (As of May 1, 2019)
Name: Gakushuin University
Address: 1-5-1 Mejiro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Number of Students: 9,186
International Students: 258

1. Overview of University (History, Mission, etc.)

Gakushuin, which was established in Kyoto as an educational institute for the nobility at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, opened Gakushuin University in 1949, meaning the university will mark its 71st anniversary in 2020. In the “Gakushuin University Charter,” the university’s first president Yoshinori Abe stated that the focus of the university would be “fostering international knowledge, mastering foreign languages, understanding practical knowledge about the world and domestic situations, and fusing together Western and Eastern culture to foster cultural progress in Japan.”

2. Overview and Characteristics of Distinctive Facilities and Equipment

Gakushuin University has five faculties and seven graduate schools, with all students, including graduate students, attending the same Mejiro campus. This single-campus learning allows students not only to pursue academics in their area of specialty, but also to engage in intellectual exchange that transcends the boundaries of their field. Despite being located in the center of Tokyo, the campus is also filled with greenery, giving it a more relaxed, peaceful feel, not to mention the beautiful harmony between the newest facilities/equipment and the school’s historical buildings.

3. Overview and Characteristics of Distinctive Faculties and Departments for International Students

Gakushuin University Square

Gakushuin University established the Faculty of International Social Sciences in 2016. In this faculty, students can learn about the social sciences (economics, business administration, law, sociology, area studies, etc.) from a broad perspective, through mainly English-language classes. They also offer 24 different Japanese language courses for students at various levels of Japanese language skill, meaning international students can learn Japanese while progressing in these courses. The university also has what is called an “SA Lessons” system, in which Japanese students act as student assistants to assist international students in their learning, which is meant to encourage academic exchange amongst the students. Approximately 63% of the courses at the university are also held in small class sizes of 30 students or less, which makes it easier to communicate with others and improve your Japanese language skills.

4. Support for International Students (Accommodations Support, Tuition Reduction, etc.)

The university offers scholarships and subsidies for regular international students, in order to reduce the financial burden of various living expenses in Japan, and motivate their studies. They also offer other kinds of support, including a 30% tuition reduction scheme. The university also provides scholarships, accommodations support, and introductions to school-owned housing for exchange students from partner universities, as well as a buddy system in which volunteers (students) at the university serve as buddies that help support international students during their study abroad in Japan.

5. Types of Support for International Students (Employment, International Exchange, etc.)

The Career Center offers international student-oriented career consultations for international students that wish to work in Japan. They will provide support for anything from general job hunting/employment to self-promotion/industry research and practicing for interviews.

Information About Scholarships, Grants, Invitations, Prizes, etc.

Japan-China Friendship Center

Project Name
8th Sekiko Kishi Japan-China Friendship Award (Essay Competition)
1. Summary:
The Japan-China Friendship Center established the "Sekiko Kishi Japan-China Friendship Award" in 2013, according to the dying wish of the late Sekiko Kishi, in order to nurture human resources that would be able to contribute to Japan-China academic relations. Sekiko Kishi lived through a period of upheaval as the wife of a Japanese government official in Manchukuo, the Manchurian pre-war Japanese puppet state. She very deeply felt the necessity of communicating not only her own experiences, but a proper understanding of history and its importance, and worked to communicate these herself.
In this 8th instance of the essay competition, 1 to 3 outstanding essays will be chosen for the award, along with a cash prize (200,000 yen). We encourage you to apply if you are an international student from China.
2. Eligibility:
International students from the three northeastern provinces of the People’s Republic of China (Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang)
3. Essay Eligibility:
Master’s theses in the humanities and social sciences that have passed the Master’s thesis review at a Japanese graduate school, between April 2018 and March 2019, or between April 2019 and March 2020. Must be in Japanese.
4. Documents for Submission:
These will not be returned.
- 2 copies of your Master’s thesis (must list the month and year the Master’s degree was completed)
- An abstract, up to 1,500 characters in length
- Letter of recommendation from your advisor
- Copy of your passport (page that shows you are from one of the three northeastern provinces)
- Contact information, including address, e-mail address, etc.
*No particular specifications of document size (A4, etc.) for abstract and letter of recommendation
5. Screening Schedule (Approximate):
Initial Screening: June 2020
Final Screening: October 2020
Award Ceremony: November 2020 (Tentative)
*Each applicant will be notified of their results by mail.
6. Application Period:
Monday, March 2 to Monday, June 1, 2020
Can be postmarked on the date of the deadline
7. Delivery Address / Contact Information:
1-5-3 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, 112-0004 Tokyo
Address To: 8th Sekiko Kishi Japan-China Friendship Award Review Committee Office
TEL: 03-3814-1261
E-mail: kourakuryo-k “at mark” jcfc.or.jp
*Please convert “at mark” to “@” when you send an e-mail.

Academic Societies

Japanese Language Tests

4. Business News

JASSO provides information about job-search for both current and graduate international students!

Information About Job Hunting Related Events

Events for International Students

Useful Websites for International Students

Job Hunting Report

Pan Wah Htun

Name: Pan Wah Htun
Nationality: Myanmar
Professional Training College: Tokyo School of Hotel and Travel
Major: Hotel Staff Course
Period of Stay in Japan: April 2015 to March 2020
Current Workplace: NIPPON HOTEL Co., Ltd.
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese-Language Proficiency Test N1

The “omotenashi” style of Japanese hospitality is very highly regarded in the world. I decided to work in Japan because I wanted to be part of the customer service industry, and help contribute to this culture of “omotenashi.” Another reason was that I’d made Japanese friends through my school and my part-time job, and I felt very comfortable living in Japan.

I chose to work at this company because of its long history, and because I believe it will experience even more growth in the future. I was also drawn to the fact that they run a lot of different kinds of hotels, which opens up the possibility of transfers. I wanted to gain a wide variety of experiences at this company, whether it be about language, different cultures, or different perspectives, and just take on new challenges. The company’s main business is in the hotel service industry, with three divisions: accommodations, dining, and events/parties. I won’t know where I’ll be assigned until I enter the company, but I plan to work as hard as I can regardless of where I’m put.

What really worked for me in the job hunting process was thinking in detail about the self-promotion process. I also went to the actual hotels to see what they were like. I compared the policies, possible areas for improvement, clientele, etc., for the hotels that I wanted to apply to, compared to other hotels. And for my entry sheets, I made sure to write in detail about the experiences I’d had thus far in my life, and the things I’d learned from my failures. There were also three things that I kept in mind for the interviews. The first was being very polite, and smiling. The second was keeping eye contact with the interviewer, and nodding and expressing interest while they were talking. The third was to be outgoing but very deliberate in my responses.

In the future, I want to be the kind of hotel specialist that knows everything there is to know about hotels. I want to communicate actively with the people I meet, and just work as hard as I can to create warm and inviting environments for our customers. I’d like to tell the people coming in after me that what’s important is “doing what you love,” or “coming to love what you do.” Don’t give up on your dreams, work to make them a reality.

Job Hunting Information Article

Preparing for Interviews

The most important part of the hiring/screening process is interviews. These can be one-on-one interviews, or group interviews with 3 to 4 people. Most companies will conduct multiple interviews, with the final interview occasionally held with the president of the company. As such, you should prepare very well for this step in the job hunting process.

You can look up the questions that are often asked in these interviews on websites and job hunting books. Come up with responses to these questions, then write them down in Japanese. This will help organize your thoughts, and will make you more confident about responding in Japanese. Many of the questions you will be asked will also have to do with your rirekisho (Japanese resume) and/or entry sheet. For these questions, it’s important that you’re able to give them more details about the information you wrote on your rirekisho and/or entry sheet. For example, if you’re asked a question about an activity you were involved in at university, it would be good for you to be able to give numerical data or describe a specific thing that happened (why you decided to become involved in the activity, a realization you had because you were engaged in that activity, how many hours/days you spent engaged in that activity, etc.), to flesh out your response.

You may also get questions that are meant to test how much you know about the company. It’s very important that you know not only about the company’s businesses, products, and services, but also about the name of the company president, their management philosophy, corporate philosophy, and more. Make sure to check the company website, pamphlets, etc., and become familiar with this information before heading into the interview.

During these interviews, they will also be checking for proper grooming and behavior. Make sure to iron the suits, shirts, etc., that you wear to your interview, check that your hairstyle looks nice and clean, shave your beard (if you are a man), and more. Remember to knock on the door before entering the interview room, be gentle when opening/closing the door or drawing your chair, and make sure to maintain good posture during the interview.

It’s normal to be nervous for interviews. So make sure to practice as much as you can, whether with your university instructors, career counselors, or even your friends, so you feel ready.

5. Visit Japan

In this section, we bring you information about areas that are home to universities and more! The April issue looks at Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture.

Introducing Cities and Daily Life As a Study Abroad Student

Nagoya Castle and high-rise buildings

Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture

Nagoya City is located in the middle of Honshu, the largest island in the Japanese archipelago, and has a population of 2.3 million. The city, which is in between Tokyo and Osaka, thrives as the center of the Chukyo Region (one of Japan’s three major metropolitan areas) and is home to many universities, junior colleges, and companies. The area is known for its manufacturing industry, particularly in areas like automobiles and aerospace, and is considered the center of Japanese manufacturing in general.

Nagoya City is also known for its deep ties to three famous Japanese generals, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Of these, Tokugawa Ieyasu is the most famous general in Japan. He created Nagoya Castle and its castle town (a town created as if to surround the castle), and also established the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled for over 200 years afterwards, . There are some areas of Nagoya City that have retained the grid-like streets from when the city was a castle town.

Chukyo Industrial Zone

Nagoya City, which has a thriving manufacturing industry, is home to the Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute, a research institute operated by the city itself. The institute helps support the manufacturing industry in Nagoya City by offering consultations to small- to mid-sized companies in the city, conducting things like tests and research on behalf of various companies, training technicians/engineers, and more.

Nagoya City has a total of 29 universities and junior colleges, with approximately 100,000 students. Of these, 7,000 are international students. Many of these international students choose to live in private apartments, although there are some that live in school-run apartments for international students, as well as the city-run International Student Center. The average rent for private apartments, specifically the kind of 1R or 1K apartments (i.e. one-room studios that are good for living on your own), is about 50,000 yen per month (as of 2020).

The area around Yagoto Station, the meeting point for two subway lines, is Nagoya’s most well-known student town. The area boasts a shopping center, as well as many of the kind of cheap dining options that students will appreciate. It is also famous for its high density of ramen shops, and is frequented by many students.

Administrative agencies in Aichi Prefecture and Nagoya City provide a wide variety of support to make life more comfortable for international students. The Nagoya International Center, for example, provides useful information for the day-to-day lives of international students, opportunities to socialize with local residents, free consultations, and more. The Aichi International Association offers multilingual assistance in terms of everyday consultations for foreign residents (including international students), legal consultations, etc., and also rents out foreign language books. And make sure to check out the Nagoya City official website, which is also offered in English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Filipino.

6. NIPPON Information

This section introduces information on Japan for international students!

Lifestyle Information

Library in Japan

Types of Libraries in Japan and How to Use Them

Internet searches can be convenient when you’re looking for information for your studies or research. It’s also important, however, to go to the library and get information from books and other resources, to access information in more certain and systematic ways. When studying abroad, it’s good to look up the library system in the country you’re going to, and learn how to use it. Here, we will be looking at libraries in Japan.

Japan is home to approximately 3,300 libraries. There are all kinds of libraries: national libraries, public libraries, university libraries, school libraries, special libraries; each with different numbers/types of books, and different systems. What we will be covering here are national libraries, public libraries, and university libraries, which are the ones most commonly used by students and researchers.

The only national library in Japan, the National Diet Library, contains almost all publications issued in Japan, with a total of approximately 44 million books/resources in storage (as of FY2019). This is due to something called the legal deposit system. The National Diet Library also collects doctoral theses from universities in Japan, and have made it so users can view/copy these theses. The library is divided into the Tokyo Main Library and the Kansai-Kan in Kyoto, and is open to anybody, regardless of nationality, as long as they are 18 years or older. You must, however, complete a registration process before you can use the library. You also can’t borrow books/resources, unlike in public libraries, etc., so you’ll have to do your reading in the library, or request copies. You can request copies online or through post, even if you’re overseas. You can ask that your copies be delivered by post regardless of whether you make the request from within the library or from overseas.

Most public libraries are operated by prefectural or municipal governments. Public libraries exist in almost every municipality in Japan, and are used frequently by residents. Prefectural libraries tend to have 500,000 to a million books/resources, and municipal governments about 50,000 to 150,000. Though anybody can read the books at any public library, most libraries require that you be registered as a resident in that municipality if you are to borrow any books. When registering for your local library, you’ll need to show ID that verifies your address. If you are a foreigner, you will also need to show your Residence Card and/or student ID card.

University libraries are operated by each university. In most cases, they can be used only by the students/alumni, researchers, and faculty of that university, though some universities allow access to local residents. Because university libraries are built for university education and research, they tend to have a lot of books and resources related to the university’s courses and research. University libraries are also tasked with collecting and storing the university’s academic achievements, which means they store papers, etc., written by faculty and students. Students at the university can look up books online and receive support as to resource management, paper writing, etc., as well as support for their research. As such, university libraries may be the most useful for students in terms of academic and research. Many universities will provide explanations as to their library system when you first enter the school, so make sure to watch out for that.

Get to Know Japan

In this section, we will introduce topics on culture, technology, lifestyle, and more in Japan. The April issue looks at events at Japanese universities.

Students wearing kimonos at a graduation ceremony

Japanese universities hold a variety of events throughout the year. For international students, these events are important opportunities to socialize with Japanese students. These events are what we will be discussing here.

Commencement ceremonies are generally held in April in Japan, though in recent years, there have been more and more universities that also hold fall commencement ceremonies in September as well. Commencement ceremonies tend to be formal affairs, with welcome greetings by the school chancellor and various department heads. There has been a recent trend towards incorporating more fun into these ceremonies, however, with performances by cheer groups, speeches by celebrities, and more.

Once the ceremony is over, it’s time for club and team solicitations. Clubs and teams often put a lot of energy into getting new students to join them, hosting lunch/dinner events and more. These kinds of activities are important opportunities for you to get to know students you wouldn’t normally see in your classes.

The first semester of university ends in July, after which is summer break, from August to September. Summer break is the longest break for Japanese universities, meaning many students go on vacation or go back home during this time. Some clubs and teams will have summer training camps and vacations as well.

October and November tends to be the season for school festivals. These festivals are held on the university campus, and are hosted mainly by students from the various clubs and teams. The festival features food stands/shops run by students, musical and theater performances, research presentations and lectures, and more. These are massive events that encompass the whole school, and are a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the specific culture of your university.

The second semester ends in January, after which comes February and spring break. Like for summer break, many students will go on vacations or go back home, though fourth-year students who are set to graduate will often go overseas on graduation trips. And then in late March is the graduation ceremony. Many students wear kimonos to their graduation ceremony, giving the whole event a bright, colorful feel.

For international students, joining clubs and teams, participating alongside your friends in your school festival, and going to the graduation ceremony in a Japanese kimono, will allow you to deepen your understanding of Japanese culture. Make sure not to forget about these university events when you study abroad in Japan!

Magazines and Brochures from Japanese Government

Providing public relations materials regarding Japan, including culture and sport.

7. JASSO News

Information about JASSO Scholarship programs, invitation programs, Study in Japan Fairs, and the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU).

Study in Japan Fairs in FY 2020

JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization) holds Study in Japan Fairs overseas for high school and university students who wish to study in Japan. It also participates in and assists with events and company briefing sessions held by other organizations.

Information about the “Student Guide to Japan”

For all those considering studying in Japan, we recommend you to read the "Student Guide to Japan" first.
In addition to information on the Japanese education system, scholarships, and daily life in Japan, the guidebook also includes stories about international students' experiences in Japan.
You can read the guidebook on the JASSO website, so we encourage not only those who are considering studying in Japan, but also students already studying in Japan to take a look.

You can read it in 14 languages such as Japanese, English, Chinese (simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese), Korean, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Myanmar language, Bengali, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, French, German, Mongolian, and Portuguese.

Official Facebook Pages of JASSO and Overseas Representative Offices

JASSO and Overseas Representative Offices also provide the latest information on studying in Japan on our official Facebook pages. Check them out!

Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU)

JASSO Scholarship Programs

Web Magazine “Ryugakukoryu”

Please read the February 2020 issue. It will be available on April 10.

Follow-up Research Fellowship (Invitation Program)

This program provides former international students who play active roles in education, research and government in their home countries with an opportunity to conduct short term research at universities in Japan.

New University Listing(s):
Nagoya University
Osaka University
University of Miyazaki
The University of Tokyo
Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine
Hokkaido University
University of Miyazaki

Follow-up Research Guidance (Dispatching Research Advisors)

This program provides Japanese academic advisors with an opportunity to visit and to help further research of former international students who are teaching and/or researching at universities or research institutes in their home countries.

Job Hunting Guide for International Students

New Japanese versions

This guidebook provides a great amount of information for international students looking to job hunt in Japan. This covers everything you need to know, from the preparation process to the entry sheets, tests, changes to statuses of residence, and more, categorized by time period, and in an easy to understand language.

The Japanese version of the “Job Hunting Guide 2021” is now complete, with distribution underway. The Japanese version, along with the other language versions (English, Chinese, and Korean) can be downloaded in PDF form from the following website.

8. From the Editor

Spring is usually a sunny season and a time of new departures, yet this year the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading throughout Japan and the whole world. We would like to extend our deepest condolences and sympathy to everyone, as well as their families, who have been affected, have suffered and still suffer from this disease. Furthermore, we would also like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all the people, including all the doctors and health care workers, who are doing their utmost in these hard times.

The Japan Alumni eNews Editorial Desk is looking for people who can share their job hunting experiences. We also welcome pictures from your life abroad as an international student, and your comments for our e-mail magazine. Our next issue of Japan Alumni eNews will be released on March 10, 2020. Don’t miss it!

  • Information in this issue may change without notice. Please visit their websites for the latest information.

- Copyright for this online magazine belongs to Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO).
- Any copying, redistribution, reprinting, etc., of this material is forbidden.

Follow-up Services and Career Support Unit, International Scholarship Division, Student Exchange Department Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)
  • Address 2-2-1 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-8630 JAPAN
  • TEL +81-3-5520-6030
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