Market Analysis: Japan
Business is booming for Japan's international education sector, with growth across several markets and a young learner sector developing, writes Matthew Knott.

In figures released recently by the Japan Student Services Organisation (JASSO), there was a 21 per cent rise in long-term visa-holding students at Japanese language institutes last year to 68,165 students, an integral part of a wider overall 15 per cent increase in international students in Japan.


In StudyTravel Magazine's survey of trends at Japanese language schools in 2016, we observed a significantly increased market share for students from Vietnam, which contributed 29.8 per cent of all enrolments at the reporting schools.


This growth chimes with the official JASSO data, which recorded a 38.4 per cent increase from Vietnam, an additional 15,000 students roughly split between long-term language courses and university degrees.



However, Vietnam was far from the only bright spot for Japanese schools. "We saw growth across the board in 2016, as the popularity of Japanese study seemed to increase in all of our target countries," enthuses Evan Kirby, Director of Genki Japanese and Culture School (JACS), which has schools in Fukuoka and Tokyo.


Evan advises that Japan is increasingly attracting younger students. "We see a big uptick in applications from younger students these days, and particularly a lot of interest in longer programmes such as half-year programmes for high-school-age students."


Munezai Yo, Administrative Director at Kai Japanese Language School, observes similar trends. "We are experiencing a gradual but steady increase these days. Even though the student population ratio doesn't change so much, we noticed the increase of USA and Taiwan. We also noticed the demand for our teen programme is increasing too."


Looking ahead, Evan is optimistic that the upwards trajectory will continue this year. "So far 2017 looks to be a great year for us, and probably for the Japanese language industry as a whole. Exchange rate worries are ever-present, of course, but they don't seem to be dissuading people."



However, Munezai issues a sound of caution for the industry on the back of recent chances to        immigration policy settings, which require stricter financial evidence for students from certain markets, if more than 10 students dropped out in the last year.


"Due to the recent tightening of visa regulations, the schools whose student body is mainly from five blacklisted countries of China, Vietnam, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar will suffer. The main reason for this tightening is many newly established schools have accepted students without sufficient financial background. It is said that a new law regarding Japanese language education will be established in the future and it is expected the industry will also be restructured."



Key facts


14 schools participated


5,808 total number of students at the schools in 2016


165,528 total number of estimated student weeks at these schools in 2016


17% - The average commission rate paid by schools on courses



Thank you to the schools who participated in our survey: Akamonkai Japanese Language School,; Eurocentres Kanazawa,; Genki Japanese and Culture School,; Hokkaido Japanese Language School,; IAY Japanese Language School,; I Seifu Japanese Language School,; Japanese Language Institute Sapporo,; JCLI Japanese Language School,; Kai Japanese Language School,; NewGlobal Language School,; Seinan Gakuin University,; Tokyo Ikuei Japanese School,; Wahaha Japanese Language School,; Yokohama Design College,


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