10% of scholarship recipients in Japan plan to file for bankruptcy: poll

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TOKYO — Ten percent of respondents to a survey targeting recipients of scholarship loans provided by the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) say they have considered declaring bankruptcy.

The survey was conducted by Posse, an incorporated nonprofit group that works on labor issues, through social media and other means, between July and September. Responses were received from approximately 2,700 people, mostly in their twenties and thirties.

Findings announced on September 21 showed some respondents had to keep jobs on poor terms or even give up marriage or childbirth as they struggled under the weight of loans.

In fiscal year 2021, approximately 1.16 million people used JASSO’s scholarship loans, which are divided into two categories: “Type 2” loans requiring interest payments and loans without “type 1” interest.

In the survey, about 60% of respondents said they received loans of 3 million yen (about $20,700) or more when they pursued higher education. While 61% currently work as full-time employees, 61% said their annual income is still less than 4 million yen (about $28,000). For this reason, many are unable to save money to repay their loans, even though they live frugally. A total of 28% of respondents said they had delayed their repayments, while 10% were considering declaring bankruptcy.

In the free responses to the questionnaire, one person wrote: “I cannot change jobs immediately, even if I am harassed, because I have debts”, while another said: “I was forced to accept parallel work.

A 25-year-old former high school teacher, a member of the ‘Scholarship Refund Cancellation Project’ formed by Posse and the General Support Union, says she and her three siblings received a total of more than 10 million yen (about $69,000). in loans. She herself entered a private university with a loan of about 4 million yen (about $27,700). After graduating, she took a job as a teacher, but her job made her sick and she had to leave after a year.

She is currently unemployed and had once borrowed money from an acquaintance to make ends meet. She had no way to repay the loan and thought, “I have no choice but to die and eliminate the repayments.

The woman said, “Scholarship loans can dramatically change your life. It’s not good to go into debt to study.

Nana Iwamoto, 23, a member of the project, cited as an example the policy of US President Joe Biden’s administration, which announced that it would forgive repayments to some student loan users, and said: “We need not only a bailout but also the eventual cancellation of debt.

(Japanese original by Yongho Lee, Tokyo City News Department)