BY AZUSA MISHIMA THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
FamilyMart Co., through its network of convenience store outlets in Asia, has begun offering help to foreign students looking to study in Japan.
In cooperation with Kawaijuku Educational Institution, a major prep school chain that offers university entrance exam preparation, and travel agency JTB Corp., FamilyMart will provide free newspapers at its overseas stores containing information on studying in Japan.
The new service will also offer assistance in obtaining visas and finding a place to live and part-time jobs in Japan. The company operates thousands of stores in Asia.
According to a survey of foreign students in Japan by 52school.com Corp., a member of the Kawaijuku group, many students found it hard to obtain information on universities and other schools in Japan matching their areas of study. They also had trouble applying to Japanese schools and finding a place to live upon arrival.
To help address such problems, FamilyMart started distributing a free newspaper with information on study in Japan at its convenience stores in Taiwan in mid-September. Taiwan has more than 2,500 FamilyMart stores.
Customers can pick up school application forms at the stores and receive help on how to apply. JTB will also assist students applying for student visas and make other arrangements, such as accommodations.
FamilyMart will help students get part-time jobs at its domestic stores.
According to Japan Student Services Organization, as of May 2009, about 133,000 foreign students were enrolled at Japanese four-year undergraduate schools, two-year junior colleges, graduate schools and other schools. Many were from Asian countries, including China, South Korea and Taiwan.
Based on a plan advocated in 2008 by then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to increase the number of foreign students in Japan to 300,000, the government hopes to attract more students from overseas. Government efforts include a project to improve the international competitiveness of Japan's institutions of higher education.