Japanese Language schools struggling to survive with shortage of students amid overseas travel bans

With the coronavirus pandemic choking social interaction and global travel, many of the nation’s approximately 800 Japanese-language schools are struggling to stay in business because new students have not been able to enter Japan.

Aoyama School of Japanese, a language school located in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward with a history of over 40 years, has accepted new enrolments three times a year, in April, July, and October. However, there was a large decline in newcomers this April, and the number of those planning to enter the school in July and October is said to be close to zero. The school is not in a position to recruit new students and its plans for the next school year onward have not yet been decided.

Enrollment at Japanese-language schools halved to around 50,000 from about 100,000 in March due to graduation and other reasons, including coronavirus restrictions, they said.

In addition, 30% of schools cited “problems with business management” due to the pandemic, while one said, “There have been problems with salary payments and employment issues.”

The six organisations also surveyed foreign students, obtaining answers from 1,887 respondents. About half of the respondents said that allowances from their families had ceased or been reduced, suggesting that many students are struggling financially. About 20% of students answered, “It is difficult to continue studying in Japan due to financial circumstances.”

Japan has banned the entry of people from 100 countries and regions as part of efforts to curb the pandemic.

According to the Justice Ministry, students can enroll in a Japanese school for up to two years. Without new students, however, it is difficult for these establishments to survive, one school official said.


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