Three universities in northeastern Japan formed an alliance with international exchange organizations on Monday to improve Japanese language education for foreign workers and trainees who are helping the nation address its acute labor shortage.
Iwate University, Akita International University, Yamagata University and four international exchange groups from the public and nonprofit sectors will join forces to train Japanese teachers to give foreign nationals in northeastern prefectures better access to Japanese language education.
It is rare for educational and international exchange institutions to engage in cross-prefectural Japanese language teacher training, Yamagata University said in a statement.
Communities and businesses in the region have invested little in training Japanese language teachers and tended to rely on volunteers, making it difficult to ensure quality education was available to the foreign workforce.
The alliance will draw up a curriculum combining online and in-person education supported by the three universities. After finishing the program, participants will be registered at municipalities to offer services according to local needs, the group said.
"With the help of people trained through the program, we are hoping to realize a multicultural society where both Japanese and foreigners live comfortably," Iwate University Vice President for International Liaison Toshihiro Yabu said.
According to the Immigration Services Agency of Japan, Akita, Iwate and Yamagata prefectures had about 4,200, 7,700 and 7,730 foreign residents, respectively, as of June last year.