Entry ban leaves Japanese language school in limbo

NHK has learned that a Japanese language school in the city of Toyama in central Japan will end up with only one foreign student due to a coronavirus-related entry ban for non-Japanese.

The Japanese government has in principle imposed a ban on new entry of foreigners amid the global rise of the Omicron variant.

Like other Japanese language schools, those in Toyama Prefecture along the Sea of ​​Japan coast were unable to accept foreign students for some time.

Toyama International Academy has 26 prospective students in their home countries.

The academy says it now has four students, but only one will remain for the school year which begins in April.

The academy manages to operate with government funding and other support programs, but says it will not be able to pay teachers and operate as a school if the current situation continues.

Academy director Miyata Taeko says the school can last for a year, but no longer. She says Toyama will lose potential workers if foreign students don’t have the chance to study there.

Meanwhile, the northern Aomori prefecture is awaiting the entry of foreign trainees to make up for the shortage of staff in nursing facilities.

Last November, three potential interns in Myanmar passed a Japanese language exam.

Dempoya Ryoji runs a cooperative association that introduces interns from Myanmar to potential workplaces.

Dempoya says members of the association are in desperate need of Burmese workers as Japan’s population ages because few young people go to public employment offices. He says he can’t wait to invite them over before their Japanese skills and motivation wear off.