The government plans to supply more personal computers to overseas Japanese schools so their students can continue to study online at home as the coronavirus epidemic shows no sign of abating globally.

The education ministry intends to ensure each pupil at Japanese elementary and high schools abroad has access to a computer, widening the scope of the existing domestic initiative.

It estimates a total of 12,000 pupils and teachers at overseas Japanese schools need new computers or tablet devices and plans to start distributing them possibly from this fall by shouldering half the costs to be borne by the institutions.

For the project, the ministry set aside 500 million yen ($4.6 million) in the draft second supplementary budget for fiscal 2020.

For a school planning to newly introduce more than 50 computers, the government will send information and communication technology experts and pay half the costs.

A teacher gives an online lecture to students in Minoh, Osaka Prefecture, on April 20, 2020, as their school remains closed amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Kyodo)

The government will examine the academic effect of the project at around 30 schools and provide up to 6 million yen for trials such as joint online courses involving multiple schools, ministry officials said.

Globally, there are about 100 Japanese schools, where roughly 17,000 children are enrolled, according to the Ministry of Education Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

As of late April, around 13,000 of them were still staying abroad. But only around 30 percent of the schools, including those in Beijing and Shanghai, had resumed classes by May 28, according to the ministry.

Japanese schools in the United States, Italy and other parts of the world hit hard by the coronavirus epidemic are feared to remain closed for an extended period of time.

Due to travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, many of the Japanese schools do not have enough teachers to hold face-to-face classes.

More than 90 percent of some 500 teachers who were scheduled to be dispatched to overseas Japanese schools in April, when the country's new academic year starts, have yet to arrive because of travel restrictions implemented worldwide.

Related coverage:

University students launch COVID-19 multilingual support project

Language schools learn harsh lesson as virus squeezes student numbers

Educational support for children of foreign descent hit by coronavirus