I sometimes see news articles about people having to work a long time to pay off their student loans. According to the Japan Student Services Organization, about 1.32 million students have a total of more than ¥1 trillion in outstanding loans. I also have taken out a student loan because I am in a fatherless family and I have two brothers, so it’s hard for my family to come up with enough money.
I have tried to get a grant-type scholarship from my university since enrolling but without success. Even though I don’t have a father, I am screened out of the application process because my family finances don’t meet the criteria. Recently, grant-type scholarships have been increasing, but the requirements are extremely strict and not friendly to middle-income earners like my family.
Before I entered university, I never worried about the cost of going to school, but now I feel anxious. I want to go on to graduate school and earn a master’s degree in Australia, but it is difficult because it is hard for my family to pay even the tuition at the university where I am studying now.
Now that I am in university I have come to realize the scholarship system in Japan is not enough, and whenever I think about it I remember a historical fact related to education in my hometown. When the town was in a miserable situation during the Boshin War, a hundred straw bags of rice were donated by a neighboring domain. However, Torasaburo Kobayashi, a vassal in my hometown, didn’t distribute the rice to anybody. Instead he sold it for money to fund education for children, saying that “the rice in a hundred straw bags will be gone as soon as it is eaten, but if the rice is used for education, it will turn into ten thousand or a million bags of rice.”
I think it’s time for the government to take this lesson to heart.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.