One step at a time; Preparing for Study in Japan from Philippines | WeXpats guide (2023)

Popular culture in Japan has had a positive impact on Filipino youth, and for many, studying in Japan has been a dream for reasons other than education. Both Asian countries share many similar cultural aspects and thanks to various programs, studying in Japan is no longer a pipe dream.

Table of contents

  • A dream come true for Filipino students
  • Choice of a university in Japan
  • “Watch your paper!” - Application to a Japanese university
  • Scholarships for international students
  • Summary

A dream come true for Filipino students

Pursuing an academic life in Japan is a dream come true for many Filipino students. The bond between the two Asian countries may be one of the reasons why students from the Philippines admire Japan as a whole. Japan's amazing culture and a respected education system are also included in the list of reasons why it enjoys an attractive status not only for students but for people from all walks of life. The two Asian countries have some similarities and overlaps when it comes to East Asian history. Until now, Japan and the Philippines remain linked by the socio-economic and political partnership formed by the two governments. This bilateral partnership is the reason Filipino students are given the opportunity to study in Japan.

International students such as Filipino students considering the possibility of studying in Japan can blend in well with the existing community upon arrival in Japan. Studying in a foreign country brings with it a number of new challenges for an international student. Barriers created by language, practices, and other forms of cultural expression can hinder one's growth in a new place. Still, students can empower themselves through hands-on immersion and living with the Japanese community. Learning the Japanese language and understanding the cultural foundations of Japan would be useful pre-study and study-time pursuits in the country.

Understanding is a key factor international students should keep in mind that can be achieved through interaction. Aside from university circles, there are social media groups that can be helpful such as the Association of Filipino Students in Japan (AFSJ) which is available on Facebook. Students are also encouraged to take part in cultural events, learn the language, or simply go about their daily routine of local students and people. It is expected that many factors, both personal and cultural, can be a hindrance but can be mitigated with small efforts. Through simple practices, all international students, including Filipinos, could be able to manifest their disposition within the Japanese community at large.

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Choice of a university in Japan

One step at a time; Preparing for Study in Japan from Philippines | WeXpats guide (6)

Some of the world's leading universities are located in Japan. According to the latest Times Higher Education World University Ranking, the country has 110 universities that made the list. To date, there are more than 700 universities and colleges in Japan, classified into three groups: national universities, non-national (prefectural) universities, and private universities. Higher education in Japan is modeled after the western model of higher education by offering four-year degree programs in various fields.

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Another characteristic of Japanese higher education is its focus on extensive research. This leads to various innovations, especially in the fields of science and technology, and gives the country the advantage of being one of the Asian countries with the most Nobel Prize winners. It reflects the country's competitive and high-quality education system.

※ Times Higher Education World University Rankings, "Best Universities in Japan"※ Top Universities, "Study in Japan"

With excellent educational standards, tuition fees can vary from university to university. National universities have a fixed annual tuition fee of 535,800 yen. Tuition fees at private universities now cost about 1.4 million yen annually; private junior colleges cost 1.1 million yen; and fees in private colleges cost ¥1.1 million. It may seem expensive at first, but the quality of the education would make it worth it given the focused and top-notch curriculum each university offers. Still, there are scholarship programs that could help reduce university costs across the board. Scholarships are offered not only to Japanese citizens but also to foreign students who wish to pursue higher education in the Asian country.

※ The University of Tokyo, prospective students, "Admission Fee, Tuition Fees and Exemptions"※ Keio University, Admissions, "Academic Fees" ※ Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-Japan, "Survey results on tuition fees in relation to the students enrolled at private universities etc. in 2018."

“Watch your paper!” - Application to a Japanese university

One step at a time; Preparing for Study in Japan from Philippines | WeXpats guide (7)

Obtaining a student visa is fundamental to studying in Japan. Applying for a Japan student visa in the Philippines is done in coordination with the chosen university in Japan. The examination for the Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) takes place annually. This is a centralized exam for international students who wish to study in Japan. This evaluates students' abilities in various fields (math, science, Japanese, and Japan and the world) to determine whether or not they are a good fit with the higher education system in Japan. After that, students who have passed the EJU apply for another round of the entrance exam at the university of their choice. In the Philippines, the EJU representative is De La Salle-College of Saint Belinde (CSB). Aspiring Filipino students can submit their application for EJU at CSB's Admissions Center.

After confirming the available places within the degree program, the applicant can now apply for a Certificate of Eligibility or COE. COE is a document that serves as proof of qualification for a job in Japan, in this case studying. It is a requirement for applying for a student visa. The COE application is made in Japan through the regional immigration authorities and can take up to 3 months. This means that it should be requested from the university for processing or from an applicant's representative in the country. If the COE is approved, the university will send it to the applicant abroad, who will now begin processing their student visa.

Here are the requirements that should be submitted to the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines to apply for a student visa once you have obtained the COE:

· Original copy of the certificate of entitlement

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· Original copy of PSA birth certificate

· Philippine passport

· 2 copies of a 4.5 cm x 4.5 cm photo

· Visumantragsformular

Ideally, student visa processing takes around 3-7 business days.

※ Japanese Embassy in the Philippines, "Applying with Proof of Entitlement (COE)"

Scholarships for international students

Pursuing higher education in Japan can be costly but could be manageable, especially if there are enough economic assets that can support education abroad. On the other hand, Filipino students can also opt for scholarships which will definitely support the education throughout the studies.

There are four scholarships that Filipino applicants can apply to support their studies in Japan. Note that exchange study programs have been removed from the list as the regulations in such programs differ from applying in person. Exchange programs are institutional in nature, which means that their execution must be coordinated between universities in different countries. These scholarship programs are mainly considered for their undergraduate study policies. Here are the scholarship programs:

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· Japanese Government Scholarship (MEXT).

· Stipendium der Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO).

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

· Grants from private organizations

· University grants

For Filipino professionals and those with master’s degrees, you can apply for a Japanese Grant Aid (JDS) scholarship through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Details on how to apply can be foundhere on their website

One step at a time; Preparing for Study in Japan from Philippines | WeXpats guide (8)

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Applying for these scholarship programs requires basic admissions requirements, including student visa and admission to a Japanese university. Scholarships of this type can cover tuition fees and provide a monthly stipend of ¥50,000 to ¥250,000 and meet some of the needs of the students throughout their studies. Of course, depending on program policies, students should maintain academic excellence. However, Filipino students can apply for these scholarships even if they are privately funded.

The scholarship secretariats of the universities can support the university application. Students of the respective faculty can inquire about the application process via the Admissions Office. Note that these scholarships may specialize in a specific area. For example, the University of Tokyo offers a scholarship for research-based postgraduate courses depending on the subject.

※ The University of Tokyo, prospective students, "Tokyo University Scholarship; The University of Tokyo Special Scholarship for International Students"


Chasing your educational dreams abroad is not impossible. There are various ways through various means that just require proper attention and knowledge. Global integration in numerous aspects such as communication, economy, information and politics determines a unique direction of change. This leads to new items to meet new demands. Students from other countries can adapt to such a trend as well. Japan's prestigious higher education sector continues to attract foreign students, and Filipino students have opportunities to participate.


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