Japan has decided to tighten its entrance requirements for overseas students from five countries including China and Vietnam from mid-March, as part of its efforts to prevent illegal immigration.
However, the move has been strongly criticized by local language schools as they claim the "standard" to select the counties is biased and unfair.
According to Japanese newspaper Nishinippon Shimbun, Japan's Immigration Bureau notified nearly half of the country's Japanese language schools in February, in which at least 10 students were either expelled or dropped off in 2015, to adopt stricter policies for overseas students from five countries, namely, China, Vietnam, Nepal, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
These schools are required to ask students to present assets certificates including their bank card records and copies of deposit books at the time of application. Otherwise, they are not allowed to enter Japan.
"Most overseas students in Japan come from the five countries and there is an increase in illegal immigration, and previous reports suggested that some overseas students work in Japan illegally," the newspaper quoted an official from the bureau as saying.
The bureau stressed that the change is part of a policy rather than punishment.
However, statistics from the bureau showed most of the illegal immigrants in Japan in 2015 were South Koreans, reaching 13,000, followed by those from the Chinese mainland, about 8,700 people. Vietnam ranked the fifth while Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka were not among the top 10.
The newspaper said that the Japanese public is questioning why these countries are chosen for the tighter entry requirement.
"Students who wish to study in Japanese universities normally will study Japanese language for at least half a year in a language school. They could get a visa after their application materials were approved by the Ministry of Justice," Li Dan, 32, an employee of a Japanese enterprise in Beijing who has studied in Japan for four years, told the Global Times.
According to Li, some Chinese people may use the student visa as a cover to stay in Japan to earn a lot of money. After the visa expires, they would usually continue to work in the country illegally.
The new policy will be implemented from mid-March and have already affected some applications.
According to The Japan Student Services Organization, about 94,000 Chinese people pursued their studies in Japan in 2015, accounting for 45 percent of the total number of overseas students.