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Japan bans 12 Vietnamese agents

Japan will not accept visa applications from 12 Vietnamese agents for six months over concerns of forgery and rising crime rates under orders of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to reports from within the country.

An increasing number of arrests among Vietnamese nationals on student visas has prompted the ban. Photo: Bagus Pangestu/PexelsAn increasing number of arrests among Vietnamese nationals on student visas has prompted the ban. Photo: Bagus Pangestu/ Pexels

The MoFA also appears to be aware of the sensitivities surrounding the bans, and has not named the agencies

The bans are not expected to have an immediate impact on the number of students coming from Vietnam

The ban, which will see Japan’s embassy no longer accept applications from the 12 agents until March 2019, comes after an investigation by visa officers into Japanese proficiency, prompted by a rising number of criminal suspects in the country on a student visa.

According to Japanese newspaper The Mainichi, which initially broke the story, more than 10% of Vietnamese students interviewed did not meet the Japanese proficiency requirements, but that figure grew to more than 30% for applicants from one of the 12 banned agencies.

Officers now suspect the agencies forged the Japanese proficiency certificates provided as part of the visa application.

The bans are not expected to have an immediate impact on the number of students coming from Vietnam, which currently represents the second largest source of Japan’s international student cohort.

Tomohiro Miyai, deputy director of Japan Student Services Organisation, told The PIE News the relatively short bans were likely a warning to the agencies to improve their practices, adding that any students they recruited would still be able to apply for a visa independently.

The MoFA also appears to be aware of the sensitivities surrounding the bans, and has not named the agencies. The Mainichi instead attributes the bans to “people familiar with the ministry’s action”.

Whether the number of Vietnamese students remains strong, however, is under a cloud, after data from Japan’s National Police Agency revealed the country represented 30% of all foreign arrests, 40% of which were on a student visa.

Students going to Japan grew to more than 267,000 in 2017 according to JASSO, pushed by a growing number of Vietnamese students attracted by the destination’s close proximity and work rights.

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