A government panel said Thursday that Japan should seek to increase the number of its citizens studying abroad to 500,000 by 2033.

The government's Council for the Creation of Future Education, chaired by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, also called for Japan to accept 400,000 international students to the country by the same year.

"The growth and success of young people, who are the bearers of the future, through studying abroad is the key to transforming society," Kishida told the council. The government will draw up a road map for the effort by around this summer.

The goal for Japanese students studying abroad includes 150,000 students seeking to earn degrees, 230,000 students studying abroad for a shorter period while remaining enrolled at universities in Japan, and 110,000 high school students abroad in study tours.

The numbers of students under each category before the COVID-19 pandemic stood at 62,000, 113,000 and 43,000, respectively.

In order to achieve the targets, the government will promote online international exchanges using information terminals distributed to each junior high school and high school student, in addition to enhanced financial aid including grant-type scholarships.

Japan will enable universities to set tuition fees and conduct capacity management more flexibly in order to increase foreign students in the country.

The government will promote year-round and autumn recruitment at Japanese companies, to facilitate the hiring of Japanese students graduating from foreign universities. Most companies in Japan have recruitment schedules that cater to the Japanese academic year.

It will create a certification scheme for high-quality vocational schools, and treat foreign students who have completed their studies there the same way as university graduates. The measure is aimed at having more foreign students stay in Japan.