Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much Japanese do you need to get by in Japan?

A: It is possible to get by in Japan knowing hardly any Japanese – and there in fact more than a few very long-term foreign residents in Japan who manage to survive with just tiny Japanese ability. However, it is beyond doubt that the experience in Japan will grow richer with increasing proficiency in the language. International graduate programs are taught entirely in English and do not assume any familiarity with Japanese. However, learning Japanese is encouraged, and a number of universities offer Japanese-language classes. In addition to making the stay in Japan a more valuable experience, proficiency in Japanese will add greatly to the graduate’s value in the job market.

Q: What is the situation regarding visas for students?

A: Students need the following:
(1) admission approval from the Japanese educational institution they have been accepted into
  Japanese-language institution, junior college, university or others
(2) a valid passport
(3) a visa from a Japanese Embassy or Consulate from their home country
(4) Certificate of Eligibility for Status of Residence (If already issued)

The process for applying for visas differs according to whether the student has a Certificate of Eligibility for a Status of Residence or not.
Students with a Certificate of Eligibility for a Status of Residence apply personally at the Japanese Embassy or Consulate in their home country. It can take some time to process this application since the application documents have to be sent back and forth between the student’s home country and Japan.

To obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for a Status of Residence, students intending to study in Japan or their proxies apply and have it issued to them at Regional Immigration Bureaus in Japan. With this Certificate of Eligibility, students then personally apply for visas at the Japanese Embassy or Consulate in their home country. Unlike visa application without the Certificate of Eligibility, this alternative has a shorter processing time.

  For more information about visas, please visit
 You may wish to contact the Embassy of Japan or the Consulate-General of Japan
  in your country for specific requirements. The contact addresses of the Japanese missions
  overseas can be found at

Q: How high are academic fees in Japan?

A: The fees at Japan’s universities and colleges are not as expensive as those in the United States and Britain. This is largely because foreign students tend to pay higher tuition fees in those countries. In addition, tuition fee exemption and scholarship systems are quite common in Japan. Academic fees in Japan consist of an admission fee (paid only the first year), a tuition fee, and a facility and equipment usage fee.

As an example, at a national university, the average tuition fee for undergraduate programs in 2010 was 535,800 yen (US$5,785), and the admission fee was 282,000 yen (US$3,044). At a local public university, the average tuition fee was 535,962 yen (US$5,624) and the admission fee was397,149 yen (US$4,166).

Q: Is there any other paperwork related to residence in Japan?

A: A Resident Card is issued to mid- to long-term residents, including international students, who are allowed to stay in Japan for a period of three months or longer, when granted permission related to residence, such as permission for change of resident status and permission for extension of the period of stay. It is compulsory for mid- to long-term residents to carry and present the Resident Card.

Q: What do I do about medical insurance?

A: With the Japanese medical insurance system, foreigners staying in the country for over three months have to subscribe to the National Health Insurance. With this system, the patient pays 30% of the total medical costs covered by the insurance, with the remaining 70% being paid by the National Health Insurance. Non-insured individuals have to pay the full costs of medical treatment. When receiving treatment for injuries or illnesses, it is necessary to present one’s insurance card in order to be eligible for the discounted payment.

Registration for National Health Insurance is made at the nearest municipal office of the city ward, city, town or village, where the insurance premium is paid. After the registration is completed, the insurance premium has to be paid monthly. The premium varies according to local councils and personal income, but in most cases it is about 20,000 yen a year.

Q: What kind of extracurricular activities might I expect at a university?

A: Universities typically have a great many clubs, which cover a wide range of cultural and sporting activities. Clubs at universities specialize in such diverse areas as classical music,
archery, swimming and volleyball as well as in more Japanese activities, such as the tea ceremony, kendo and karate. These clubs are of course an excellent way to make Japanese friends.

Q: What is the danger from earthquakes and other natural disasters?

A: Southwest Japan was unaffected by the great earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. The chances for this part of Japan being hit by a major earthquake are quite low.