November 12 will officially be celebrated annually in Japan as ‘Study Abroad Day’, recognising and promoting the value of study abroad, it has been announced.
The Japan Association of Overseas Studies said it received approval from the Japan Anniversary Association to commemorate the day in a statement.
The aim is to raise public awareness for study abroad opportunities so that the country can “continue to nurture significant and influential representatives of talents”, and contribute “active roles in the global arena and contribute to Japan’s future through the experience they have gained from studying abroad”.
Notably, the chosen date is significant as it symbolises the day which Japanese women were first given the opportunity to travel abroad for their studies.
On November 12, 1871, a small number of female students joined the Iwakura Mission – a Japanese diplomatic voyage which sent five girls to the United States to study the role and education of American women. Prior to this, international education had been a privilege limited to men.
The youngest student, Umeko Tsuda, was just six years old at the time. Tsuda went on to create a scholarship system for women to study in the US, and is the founder of Tsuda University, in Tokyo.
“Japan has long history of sending its students abroad since around 600 AD”
“Japan has long history of sending its students abroad since around 600 AD, and many of them who returned from their study abroad experiences have contributed to Japan’s growth,” the statement read.
“As the world becomes increasingly integrated today, the development of global talents has become a top priority task for Japan,” it added.
To coincide with the celebratory day, JAOS has announced that it will hold the first ‘JAOS Study Abroad Awards’ on November 12, 2022.
The nomination-based awards will be judged by four experts from their respective international stages and award winners will be selected from nominees spanning sectors from business and study abroad advocate organisations, entertainment, sports, politics to social media.
Japan saw a steep decline in outward numbers with just over 6,000 Japanese students travelling abroad to study in 2021 – a significant decline from pre-pandemic levels.
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