Okinawan students have the most interest in gaining international experience

Okinawan students have the most interest in gaining international experience

The ratio of public junior high school students who answered "I want to study abroad and/or work internationally in the future."

November 14, 2014 Yoshiki Nagahama of Ryukyu Shimpo

A nationwide survey on academic ability conducted by the Ministry of Education in 2013 revealed that 20 percent of students in public junior high schools in Okinawa answered “yes” to the question, “Do you think you are interested in studying abroad and/or having an international job experience in a future?” The ratio is the highest in the nation, and well above the national average, which was 14.2 percent. The survey results show that many students in Okinawa have a high level of interest in international experiences.

Tokyo ranked second with 19.2 per cent, followed by Kanagawa Prefecture with 18.3 percent. Four other prefectures, Osaka, Nara, Kyoto and Saitama, exceeded the national average. Prefectures that placed 8th to the 42nd were below the average, falling between 10 to 13 percent.

To the same question, 20 percent of students in Okinawa answered, “moderately agree,” which was also the highest percentage in the nation. The national average was 15.7 percent.

Executive Board Member of the Okinawa Prefecture Study Abroad Consortium Tadahiko Kinjo, who promotes Okinawa’s various study abroad support programs, said, “The intake number for applications for overseas study prefectural scholarships per head of population is the highest in Okinawa out of all of Japan. It is only Okinawa that has a subsidized system to assist all necessary costs for studying abroad for one whole year. Local municipalities also have unique programs.” Kinjo said, “Historically, Okinawa has openly welcomed different cultures. As a tourist destination, Okinawa must have a capacity to welcome and understand people from the outside.”

University of the Ryukyus Professor Munehiro Machida, who serves as an advisor for the Obuchi Program to support study abroad programs in Hawaii remarked, “It seems the number of students who take a leave of absence from college and go abroad for a trip or for study is increasing. In Okinawa’s case, I assume that having relatives overseas (due to immigration and other reasons) has made many people feel closer to foreign countries.”

Since the 2012 fiscal year, Okinawa has sent about 100 people including high school and university students to 20 countries, through a government-subsidized International Human Resource Development Project. The prefectural government subsidizes travel expenses, tuition fees, and health insurance.

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

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