The education ministry plans to set up a new subsidy system for prefectures and large cities that offer detailed support to foreign students attending public elementary and junior high schools and their parents through the use of multilingual translation systems.
The subsidies will be offered to prefectural governments, ordinance-designated major cities and other core cities that use tablet computers with multilingual speech translation functions when teaching Japanese to students from abroad at school and providing school guidance to their parents.
The ministry has set aside ¥20 million for the subsidy system, which is designed to cover one-third of related costs, under the government’s fiscal 2019 budget. According to sources, 100 language support programs are likely to become eligible for the financial aid.
The launch of the new subsidy system comes in line with the government’s policy of allowing more foreign workers to enter the country.
The number of foreign students in Japan needing Japanese language education totaled 43,947 in fiscal 2016, up 70 percent from the 26,281 seen in fiscal 2006. Languages spoken by these students range from English to Chinese and Portuguese.
With the number of students from abroad expected to continue increasing, the ministry has found it necessary to accelerate efforts to help teachers and foreign students communicate smoothly, the sources said.