This the students who study at tertiary institutions
This Op-ed is targeted for publication
in the Yomiuri Shimbun, which is one of the most influential newspapers in
Japan. This paper is politically balanced though it is slightly conservative
compared to other influential newspapers. In 2017, the Japanese government
introduced grant-based scholarship for tertiary students which they do not have
to pay back after graduation, and it arouses national discussion.
Why did the Japanese government need to introduce
the policy of grant-based scholarship for tertiary students, which students
selected by financial and academic result can receive money? From the political,
equity, and economic perspectives, it was not the right time to start this policy.
The government must have better options for students and the government itself.
For the Japanese government, this is the
first time to introduce the grant-based scholarship. Before starting the scholarship,
the government offered two types of student loan, one is with interest and the
other is without interest. The proportion of those two programs has changed
according to students’ needs and the government’s financial situation1.
The reason why the government started
grant-based scholarship is that the percentage of the students who study at tertiary
institutions with financial difficulties is much lower than the students
without those difficulties2.
Additionally, many people are struggling to repay because of their low income3.
However, this does not mean that student loan
without interest is not enough to solve these problems. What is worse, this
introduction may increase the burden of future generations.
Supporters of this policy claim that it is
unequal that financial difficulties prevent students from going to higher
education. However, all public universities and some private universities
exempt their tuition fee depending on their economic situations4 and
they also offer the dormitory which rent fee is much cheaper than the apartments.
By using these systems which lessen their burden, and doing part-time job,
students can make a living by just borrowing 20,000 USD5 for
four years. Is this amount of money they cannot repay?
We also should not forget that this
scholarship is covered by the tax, so the enough research should be done to
prove the necessity of this policy. However, even though the data shows that
more than 80% of people who cannot repay after graduation earn less than 27,000
USD in a year6, there
is no explanation why they are under those situations. Some people should have
inevitable reasons, but others should not because some people can pay back
though they are in the same economic situation. This raises the question
whether the government has to introduce the policy, from the perspective of
political needs and people’s acceptance.
What is worse, it brings another problem. The
government debt is increasing, and fiscal situation is being deteriorated year
by year7. This
loan will be the burden for them anyway, and even though today’s budget for the
program is 7 billion USD, it is going to increase within several years8.
Probably, future generations have to carry the burden because of us.
Therefore, the Japanese government should stop the grant-based
scholarship program and I would like to suggest a few alternatives.
Firstly, instead of the grant-based
scholarship, increase the budget for student loan without interest. This will not
worsen government’s financial circumstance further, and it is easier to get
agreement with Japanese people.
Additionally, it is worth to think that
introducing the graduated-tuition fee system, which the tuition fee is decided
depending on the students’ family income.
Finally, the government needs to inform
students and teachers that there are bailouts for the people who cannot repay
because of their inevitable financial difficulties9 so
that they do not have to struggle with paying back unnecessarily.
Students who are complaining about their
situation though there are those supports seem to be unqualified to study at tertiary
institutions. Therefore, prime minister Abe and the Minister of education
Hayashi, how about rethinking to change this policy?
Ohuchi, H.(2015) The
Problem of Japanese Scholarship Program. The Journal of Education Sociology,
Hamanaka, Y. (2015). Challenge of
Japanese Scholarship Program from The Comparison with Other Countries. Paper presented at International symposium, supports for students
at tertiary education, Implication for Japanese education system, Tokyo, Japan
Student Services Organization.
Zen, I (2017). Creating the
grant-based scholarship. House of Councilors, The National Diet of Japan.
Japan. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and
Technology. (2017). About scholarship
program. Retrieved January 6th 2018 from http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/koutou/shougakukin/main.htm.
OECD Data. (2015). General government
debt Retrieved January 6, 2018 from https://data.oecd.org/gga/general-government-debt.htm.
Kawai private tutoring school. (2017). Private
universities which have scholarship programs in Kanto Area. Retrieved January 6th 2018 from http://www.keinet.ne.jp/dnj/17/gakuhi/kyuhi_s02.pdf
Japan Student Services Organization. (2014). Students’ life survey on 2014. Tokyo.
Retrieved January 6th 2018 from http://www.jasso.go.jp/about/statistics/gakusei_chosa/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2017/02/08/houkoku14_outline.pdf.
Japan Student Services Organization. (2017) For Applicants of Grant-Based Scholarship In 2017.
Retrieved January 6th 2018 from http://www.jasso.go.jp/shogakukin/kyufu/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2017/04/14/h29_kyuhuannai.pdf
Japan Student Services Organization. (2017). Procedures for paying back. Tokyo.
Retrieved January 6th 2018 from
(n.g.) (2017, September 11th). For expansion of the
grant-based scholarship The prime Minister Abe declared for the revolution for
human resource development. Nihon Keizai Shimbun,Inc. Retrieved January 6th 2018
1 The budget of the student loan without interest
increased by 17.6% in 2016 compared to that of 2015. The proportion of the
student loan without interest has increased these days.
Refer to Japan. The Ministry of Education,
Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. (2017). About scholarship program.
Retrieved January 6th 2018 from http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/koutou/shougakukin/main.htm.
2 Total percentage of getting tertiary education is
73.2% while that of students with single parent is 41.6%. That of students
getting public assistance is 33.4% and that of students from orphanages is
There are 164,635 people who cannot pay back, which is 5% of people who have to
return in 2015.
4 Kawai private tutoring school. (2017). Private
universities which have scholarship programs in Kanto Area. Retrieved January 6th
2018 from http://www.keinet.ne.jp/dnj/17/gakuhi/kyuhi_s02.pdf
Also, dormitory fee
differs from the universities, but public universities offer it under 100 USD
in a month and private universities offer several options.
Students who go to private university and live in the apartment should be under
the most difficult economic situations. Their average tuition fee is 10,600 USD
and average living cost is 17,700 USD in a year. However, if the tuition fee is
exempted, the money they need is 7,100 USD. From my experience, anyone can earn
5,000 USD in a year, so they need to loan 2,100 USD (8,400 USD for four years).
I understand this is an ideal situation and they want to spend money for
studying abroad or other activities, so I add 10,000 USD to the total. Refer to
Japan Student Services Organization. (2014).
Students’ life survey on 2014. Tokyo. Retrieved January 6th 2018
6 Ohuchi, H.(2015) The Problem of Japanese
Scholarship Program. The Journal of Education Sociology, 83-96.
7 OECD Data. (2015). General government debt Retrieved
January 6, 2018 from https://data.oecd.org/gga/general-government-debt.htm.
8 Prime minister Abe clearly said that he wants to
expand the grant-based scholarship. (n.g.) (2017, September 11th). For
expansion of the grant-based scholarship The prime Minister Abe declared for
the revolution for human resource development. Nihon Keizai Shimbun,Inc.
Retrieved January 6th 2018 from
9 People who cannot pay back because of
unavoidable reasons, they can postpone the payment and they can reduce it by
half or one-third.