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Govt to invite African high school students to study in Japan

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe Foreign Ministry will launch a project to invite African high school students to study in Japan, aiming to deepen young Africans’ understanding of Japan and foster human resources who can play an active role in Japanese companies and other organizations in the future.

The ministry aims to accept students from all 54 countries in Africa over the next three years. The project will be announced by the government at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to be held in Yokohama from Aug. 28 to 30.

According to the ministry, students from African countries account for only 0.4 percent of foreign nationals studying in Japan with the sponsorship of the Japanese government. There are overseas study programs through which philanthropists provide financial assistance on a private basis and short-term visiting programs for African youths, but Japan has weaker ties with Africa compared to other regions when it comes to youth exchanges.

At the TICAD in 2013, the Japanese government unveiled the ABE initiative to receive young Africans with the aim of developing human resources through professional education at graduate schools in Japan and internships at companies.

However, since many Africans use English in their daily lives and studies, they have few opportunities to use Japanese.

The envisaged program will lower the age eligible for the project and focus on exchanges with Japanese people. Specifically, the government plans to have African high school students stay with Japanese volunteer families for about a year and go to local high schools.

The Foreign Ministry will bear the necessary costs and expects to receive about 20 African people in the first year.

“In order for Japanese companies to take root in Africa, they need to have local executive candidates who can serve as guides,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said. “We hope young Africans will become familiar with Japanese language and culture, and be able to serve as a bridge between Japan and Africa.”

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