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Why Are Japanese Students Attracted To Canada?

Japan’s fixation with the United States is well-known. Japanese designers’ love and obsession with the prototype American garments called – denim – has several decade later made them surpass the original makers and made them the number one top quality denim producer in the world. Same goes for the best bourbon and burgers – copied from the U.S, re-modeled to be better by Japan. The United States is also the number one and highly sought after study destination of choice for Japanese. According to UNESCO report, there are 15,075 Japanese students in the United States alone, almost five times more than their Second favourite study abroad destination, the United Kingdom.

Today, there’s another competitor for this spot in the hearts of Japanese students: Canada.

For four years in a row, Canada is now the 2nd most common study abroad destination, according to the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), as revealed by Master Studies. About twenty (20) percent of students and thirty-seven (37) percent of parents had Canada as their 2nd choice for study abroad, after the United States, according to one latest survey.

Government data present a twenty-four (24) per cent surge in the number of Japanese students moving to Canada as well.

Top reasons for this much love for the Maple leaf country is for its  “public safety” and positive learning environment or place.

Another recent survey report found that over fifty- five (55) per cent of students wish to learn English overseas, and fifty-three (53) per cent like to work on “interpersonal communication”.

Overall – safety and the availability of many English language programs – make Canada a big hit with Japanese people.

Gerald Keddy, a secretary to the Canadian minister of international trade reveals to the New York Times that Canada is safer, friendly and more multicultural and offers more greater flexibility on visa and immigrations.

“We have done a good job of attracting international students and making them to become part of Canadian society by encouraging them to work while studying here,” he said.

“Quite on a frank note Japanese have a pretty good opinion of Canada, I think … They view us as close neighbors of the United States but not American.”

It didn’t use to be like this, In 2009, Statistics from the government and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed the number of Japanese studying abroad decreased to fewer than 60,000 compared to 83,000 from the previous  five years.

But as business owners and employers seek to globalise their workforce, that downward trend has began to reverse in 2011.

Speaking to the New York Times, Yukari Kato, vice president (executive) of Ryugaku Journal declared: “The government was beginning to realize they must globalize their human talent and workforce, and companies like Uniqlo and Rakuten were introducing in-house English-language policy”.

Foreign language skills, as well as working experience abroad, started becoming requirements among Japanese employers and business owners as well, she says.

In 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that the country would subsidize “all motivated and able Japanese youth who want to study abroad”. The aim is to double the number of Japanese student studying abroad by 2020.