In its drive to double the number of Japanese youths studying abroad by 2020, the education ministry has launched a campaign involving the private sector, which is eager to hire more graduates with overseas experience.

Under the campaign titled “Tobitate! Ryugaku Japan” (“Go abroad! Study Overseas, Japan”), the ministry in cooperation with businesspeople, athletes and artists, will stage a series of promotional activities to encourage more young people to seek out educational opportunities in other countries.

A special website for the campaign, to be updated from mid-November, will have content like accounts by people who have studied abroad as well as advice on what to do before leaving Japan. A Facebook page has also been created, and the ministry is planning to hold events and seminars on exchange programs in the coming months.

More than 100 individuals from various fields have come out in support of the campaign as of Thursday. The website has messages of encouragement from people like Rakuten Inc. CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University and Homare Sawa, captain of the Nadeshiko women’s national soccer team.

The campaign is in line with the government’s efforts to double the number of Japanese exchange students.

The ministry wants to increase the number of college students studying abroad from about 60,000 in 2010 to 120,000 by 2020. For high school students, the ministry aims to raise the number from 30,000 in 2010 to 60,000 by 2020.

Education minister Hakubun Shimomura said at a news conference Tuesday that Japan as a whole needs to encourage studying abroad to nurture internationally minded talent.

He said he hopes the campaign will also help collect funds from the private sector to offer study-abroad opportunities for as many students as possible.

“I think hiring ‘global talents’ who have experienced studying abroad will benefit many firms. I hope that companies will regard (the value of studying overseas) as their own issue as well,” Shimomura said.

The ministry plans to call on companies to offer internships and hold seminars for students before and after going overseas.

The ministry asked for ¥15.3 billion in the fiscal 2014 budget to fund scholarships for overseas studies, up ¥9.9 billion from this year. The money would aid 32,500 university students and 3,600 high school students, up from 10,200 and 300 this year.

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