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Japan tightens visa criteria for foreign students to stop military-related technology drain

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato is seen during a press conference at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, on July 19, 2021. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- Japan has tightened immigration screening standards for foreign students to prevent the drain of technologies that could be used for military purposes, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato announced at a news conference on July 20.

    The new, stricter standards have already been instituted since April this year. The Japanese government now checks potential links between foreign students and military-related companies.

    Before the new measures were introduced, Japanese universities reported to the Immigration Services Agency necessary information such as a prospective student's occupation or the last academic degree they had obtained at the time of the application and their means to make payments related to studying in Japan. Under the new regulations, required information includes a student's entire academic history, work experience, sources of finance, and any ties with military-related firms. The new measures are also intended to urge Japanese universities to beef up technology management capabilities.

    Foreign students subject to the stricter standards are those who are involved in technologies that can be used for military purposes, such as research on artificial intelligence, as well as students involved in technologies crucial to national security, including nuclear power research.

    In cooperation with the National Security Secretariat, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Defense Ministry, among other bodies, the Immigration Services Agency will examine prospective students' research. In the event an application is found to be falsified or espionage is suspected, the student may not be granted a visa.

    (Japanese original by Akiko Kato, Political News Department)

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