By Oscar Johnson
Any would-be study abroad student eyeing Japan knows it’s an expensive option. Because of that, many are no doubt schooling themselves on scholarship opportunities. What few know, however, is that Japan not only offers richly rewarding study experiences; it can also provide the means to make them happen.
For those who are serious about their studies as well as studying here there is a myriad of state- and organization-sponsored scholarships. They range from partial and full-tuition waivers to long-term full-rides. Eligibility and application processes vary, as do whether to apply via a Japanese representative, university or your home institution. Similarly, specifics such as the amounts of these scholarships can change. Always contact the awarder directly for updates. It’s also best to have some Japanese study under your belt; there are very few options that don’t require knowing and/or learning the language. With this in mind, there are several options to consider.
Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has supported thousands of so-called Japanese government-financed foreign students. Some of these scholarships are awarded to undergraduates already studying at Japanese universities. But most go to students who are recommended by Japanese embassies or consulates in their home countries after a preliminary application process that includes testing. Graduate-research students can get a stipend of about 185,000 yen per month and travel, medical and housing assistance. There are also Honors Scholarships earmarked for junior colleges, universities, vocational schools and other institutions that offer stipends of around 49,000 yen or more plus expenses.
The Japanese Government Scholarship, or Monbukagakusho, can require a five-year commitment. Students have no say in what university they are placed after a year of intensive Japanese-language study. But there is a wide range of majors in the humanities and natural sciences to choose from, such as Japanese studies, architecture or medicine. This scholarship offers a monthly stipend of about 130,000 yen, housing, basic medical assistance and airfare. While it includes a year of Japanese study, the application process nonetheless requires a written Japanese test for assessment purposes.
For those not wanting to study in Japan for the long haul, the Association of International Education, Japan (AIEJ) offers The Short-term Student Exchange Promotion Program Scholarship. For about a year, it provides monthly stipends of around 80,000 yen per month. AIEJ also offers other scholarships for pre- and post-graduate as well as doctorate studies with stipends ranging from 120,000 yen to 200,000 yen.
Think being from a developing country puts study in Japan out of reach? Think again. The Japanese government and United Nations University have teamed up to lend a hand. The United Nations University Financial Assistance Programme offers no-interest loans to students from scores of designated developing countries. Such students who enroll at a Japanese university can borrow between 100,000 yen and 400,000 yen depending on their level and length of study. The funds are repaid in monthly installments of 10,000 yen and must be paid off in full before recipients finish their studies.
For info and applications for Japanese government scholarships check out Study in Japan: http://www.studyjapan.go.jp/en/index.html. General info on AIEJ scholarships is at: http://www.between.ne.jp/sij/en/schlshp/index.html, for more about the association visit: http://www.in32.com/AIEJ/about/01mokuteki_e.html. Details on the United Nations University Financial Assistance Programme are at: http://www.fap.hq.unu.edu/.