Japanese Language School Punished for Violating Rights of International Students

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Building in the Kasumigaseki district of Tokyo that houses the Immigration Services Agency.

The Immigration Services Agency has barred a Japanese-language school in Sendai from accepting new international students for five years because the school made some students submit written pledges with financial penalties for rule violations.

The agency determined that making students submit written pledges that include penalties constitutes a violation of their human rights.

The language school, Mirai no Morigakuen, claims the administrative action is unjustified, citing the fact that it has not collected penalties from students and has scrapped the written pledges.

According to the Immigration Services Agency, from around 2017 to July 2021, the school made five Vietnamese students submit written documents in which they pledged to abide by such rules as not switching their student visas to working visas without permission, with violations punishable by penalties of about ¥1 million to ¥3 million.

In addition, the school reportedly told students trying to change their residence status that it was not able to issue necessary documents, which the students claim interfered with their options for future courses.

The agency removed the school from the list of Japanese-language institutions authorized to accept international students, effective Monday.

Mirai no Morigakuen told The Yomiuri Shimbun: “The written pledges were necessary to prevent international students from leaving the school and finding a job soon after obtaining a student visa. But we’ve already abolished the pledges because they could have caused misunderstanding.”

In April, the school filed a lawsuit with the Sendai district court seeking an injunction against the Immigration Services Agency’s administrative action. It plans to seek nullification of the punishment.

According to the agency, Mirai no Morigakuen is the second Japanese-language school to be removed from the authorized school list for violating the human rights of students since 2016, when the current criteria were established.

A Japanese language school in Fukuoka that received the same administrative action in September has filed a lawsuit seeking the nullification of the punishment. The lawsuit is pending in the Fukuoka district court.