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Indian students still don’t find Japan interesting. Here is why

There are 80 plus National universities, 90 plus public universities and approx. 600 private universities in Japan.

Written by Junko Nirmala |
Updated: August 31, 2014 10:02:26 am
Indian IIT`s and IIM`s are regarded as best elite Indian universities in japan and among Japanese expatriates. Indian IIT`s and IIM`s are regarded as best elite Indian universities in japan and among Japanese expatriates.

While Indian Students perceive their higher studies dream with US, UK and other Global universities on high pitch scale, Selecting Japanese Universities seems to be out of radar for many years among Indian Students.

To study in Japan more than 10,000 Chinese students enroll per year in Japanese universities and specialized training Institutes, Students from Other countries like Korea are more than 1000, hardly 500 Indian students are studying in Japan currently. On a rigor promotion by Japanese universities to attract Indian students the numbers have increased only recently, otherwise even a decade ago it used to be only below 100`s per year.

Though Indians have tremendous liking towards Japan for its technology, Bullet trains and beautiful seasons, it appears there is lot more at stake when it comes to studying or starting their higher studies in Japan. One can say that Studying in Japan is expensive hence no interest is shown to select Japanese universities, but if total cost per program is compared to US or UK universities Japanese universities cost does fall on the similar line with slight variations in cost of living.

There are 80 plus National universities, 90 plus public universities and approximately 600 private universities offering variety of programs in Japan. Many Japanese universities offer courses in English in selected disciplines and does have world’s best research facilities. Some of the renowned Japanese national universities have consistently tried to attract Indian students through scholarships and other exchange programs. Couple of universities has even set up their support desk in India to spread awareness among aspiring Indian students.  Yet Japanese universities remain far for Indian Students. Apart from cost of living and studying and language challenges The Top reasons for not being primary choice to study in japan are as follows.

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Lack of Role Model:  In US and other countries there is clear role model [Nonresident Indian`s and also other foreigners] who have flourished in many ways be it in political academic, scientific, entrepreneurial domains or any domains that attracts students from their origin country. In Japan it is very hard to say – if there is any role model [NRI or foreigner] who has been successful after studying here on par with other countries. Neither Indians nor other foreigners in main stream domains have been able to climb up the ladder in Japan, but it does not mean there is none. There are handfuls of people who have made it to the top, but very limited.

Indians who came to japan to study 20 ~ 30 years back have had good career but many of them are not based in japan. Those who stayed back, their contributions have been limited to certain levels.

Lack of Career Prospectus:  Since Many Japanese companies tend to have Japanese personnel in top management level for their subsidiaries and important positions, like other countries or multinationals, it is very hard to see Indians / Other foreign nationals who studied in Japan and have taken up Top position in Japanese Corporates. Many foreign students, post their graduation join Japanese companies, as interns and or mid-level professionals ,after certain period they move on, retaining foreign employees is been challenge for Japanese companies.

Lack of entrepreneurial opportunities:  Raising funds through Japanese angel investors and Venture capital firms has been toughest, Most of the foreign entrepreneurs after pitching to investors tend to calculate time and energy spent VS money raised and profitability due to demanding consumer requirements. Many investors are risk averse and more importantly most of the VC`s are subsidiary of Japanese Banks. Not many Foreigners have been successful to raise funds for Tech startups or other forms of venture. However setting up companies is very easy and does not have any hassles unless the venture requires special licenses. In US [Silicon Valley] most of tech startups by Indian`s have made worldwide buzz and attracted huge profitability. In Japan there is not a single IT Venture /startup which have made buzz.

In US, Indian students and researchers have been able to patent their ideas in computer programs and other inventions made by them, but in japan none. Japan being high technological country and has world’s largest patents even today, yet Foreigners owning patents in Japan is very limited.

According to the Japanese Immigration Bureau, out of all nationalities students, there were 8,905 people who changed their status of residence from College Visa to employment Visa in 2009. There is an increase in foreign students who participate in internship programs at Japanese firms while they are enrolled in Japanese Institute.

Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) conducted the Japan Education Fair in First week of August’2014 at a hotel in New Delhi promoting Japanese universities among Indian students. As trade between India and Japan is estimated to grow and many Japanese companies are setting up their offices in India, requiring Indian employees in many cadres, perhaps career opportunities could be more from now on.

By the way it is very important to note that Japanese companies who have set up their offices in India, most of them do hire Indian employees from IIT and IIMs as those are top tier universities. Indian IIT`s and IIM`s are regarded as best elite Indian universities in japan and among Japanese expatriates. Therefore when it comes to hiring Indians for Indian market, Candidates from Indian elite universities are preferred.

Another aspect is that Japan tends to be more conservative in engaging foreign people, though foreign people are welcomed as tourist and as short term visitor; and hospitality is highly regarded but for a long term career and other opportunities still there is huge challenges to overcome, not limiting to language alone.

One more dimension is due to changing Hiring pattern by Japanese companies preferring overseas experienced Japanese candidate, many Japanese students tend to travel to US and other emerging countries for their higher studies. Therefore Many Japanese students are studying in India now, their choice of study in India appears to be IT, Language and Business management programs.

For Indian students – Post graduation, career is been the attracting factor in many countries, Hope Japanese companies and Japanese universities work hand in hand to enable employment for Indian students those who study in Japanese universities.  Opportunities and career growth will be huge pull factor, once Role model can be seen in all domains that will in turn attract future students.

Writer Profile: Junko Nirmala is a Tokyo resident with 15 years of experience in technology and business consulting services mainly focusing on India-Japan Market and cross border related services. Her diverse background even includes a short stint as a Venturepreuner. During the last few years she has helped several Japanese companies with their India market entry strategies. Writer can be reached at

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of the The Financial Express, or any other entity of theIndian Express Group.

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