Japanese Universities Strengthen Background Checks for Foreign Students

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Leading Japanese universities, including those with close ties to China, are set to tighten background checks on foreign students seeking to study civilian-military technologies, a Kyodo News investigation revealed Thursday.

Their efforts to prevent the transfer of sensitive information out of Japan come after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government in June announced a plan to tighten controls on exports of technology that can be used for military purposes, forcing students under strong influence of foreign governments to obtain approval from the Ministry of Industry to work on such research.

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The survey gathered responses from 56 universities, including those that have student exchange agreements with Chinese universities known as the “Seven Sons of National Defense” that have close ties to industry. defense of China.

Of the schools surveyed, 31 said they have tightened up on student background checks or are considering doing so.

They started checking with the schools where the international students attended and the companies they worked for. Some universities ask students if they want to find military-related jobs, while others ask for details of the research funding students receive.

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Previously, many schools only asked questions about the last schools attended by students.

As of May of last year, there were some 280,000 foreign students in Japan, over 40% of them from China.

Japan currently does not have strict rules on finding foreign students and researchers on so-called dual-use technologies with military applications such as artificial intelligence.

Mikihito Kano, a professor at Mie University specializing in intellectual property management, said that as long as Japanese universities rely on student resumes for background checks, the government will need to make more stringent screening. foreign students.

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