Drawing on the experiences of his 25 years in Japan as a student and foreign correspondent, Lu Peichun now keeps himself busy advising young Malaysians who hope to study in Japan.

Lu, 54, has an office in a building that houses assorted stores and businesses in Kuala Lumpur’s bustling Chinatown. Since he opened the office in 1999, Lu has been offering detailed advice free of charge to those who want to study at Japanese colleges and universities, as well as their parents.

He also runs a Japan study center he launched three years ago, and has sent about 150 young Malaysians to Japan.

Lu’s guidance is based on the experiences he accumulated during his long stay in Japan and an abundant network of personal contacts.

While in Japan he published some 10 series of Japanese books, including “Motto Shiro Asia” (“Learn More About Asia”) and “Hoshoku Nippon” (“Gluttony Japan”).

After managing various companies, he went to Japan in 1973 to study at his own expense at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

In his junior year, he also became the first Tokyo correspondent for the Singapore newspaper Sin Chew Jit Poh, the predecessor of the Chinese-language paper Lianhe Zaobao.

He wrote stories on Japanese politics and public affairs until 1989.

He then taught at Komazawa University in Tokyo on the subject of Japan’s relations with Asia, before returning to Malaysia in 1998.

“My stamina wasn’t what it used to be and I also thought it was about time that I should do something to help those who were my junior in my country,” he explained.

Lu spent six months putting together a guide to studying in Japan. It includes practical tips, such as how to open bank accounts, as well as advice from foreign students on life in Japan and their impressions of Japanese people.

He said that the book needed to have “a sense of realism (since) I am a journalist.”

He regrets, however, that there are only around 2,000 Malaysian students in Japan, compared with 15,000 in Britain. Malaysians find it difficult to make proper use of their experiences in Japan, according to Lu.

“Even if they land jobs in Japanese corporations, there are limitations to promotion opportunities,” he said.

“Even the parents of former students in Japan tend to think they cannot send their children to such a country.”

But Chinese-Malaysian youths who are increasingly preoccupied with culture and entertainment are steadily becoming fans of Japan.

“They put their hearts into liking Japan,” Lu said. “I hope Japan will respond to their feelings.”

While he traveled around Malaysia offering advice, Lu also served as caretaker of a group of Chinese-Malaysian victims of Japan’s wartime aggression. The group has protested Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine and a school history book authored by a group of nationalist Japanese scholars.

Lu sent a petition and letter to Koizumi that said: “In order to transmit history properly to (others), I would like to take action in some form (because) as one who studied in Japan, I want to return the favors I received,” he said.

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