MEXT Overhauled its application form beginning with the 2018 Embassy-Recommended Scholarship Application Process, so some of the information below is no longer accurate. Click here for a step-by-step instructions for the new application form, plus a downloadable sample!
The (Old) Form
The English translations on the MEXT scholarship application form are confusing at best- and sometimes downright misleading. I used to have two pages of correction bullet statements to copy/paste and send to applicants (most of which were about question 7).
One mistake on the form might force you to have to re-complete and re-send the form by expensive international express mail, depending on how your university handles it.
By following the question-by-question instructions in this article, you can be sure that your application form will clear review with no problem. So, let’s get started.
- Type the application if at all possible. This isn’t only about clarity, but if you type every entry on a page, you can sometimes make corrections by email. If you handwrite any portion of a page, you will have to make all corrections by post.
- If you must handwrite, use block (all capital) letters and black ball-point pen. Other colors are not considered official in Japan.
- Use Arabic numerals (e.g. 1, 2, 3). Do not use any other type or write out numbers in text.
- All years must be in AD (also called CE). This goes for any of your supporting documents, too! If your country uses a different year system (Buddhist, Muslim, Coptic, Japanese, etc), make sure you translate those into AD. (e.g. 2015)
- Do not abbreviate proper nouns (e.g. cities, countries, school names.)
- If you have to make corrections, it’s best to start over and recreate a clean form. But if that’s not possible, cross out the error with two horizontal lines through the text and write the correction above.
- I highly recommend submitting two copies of the form: One printed double-sided, as per the instructions, and one printed single-sided. Having a single-sided version may just save you from having to resend the application by express post in case corrections become necessary!
Application for Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho: MEXT) Scholarship – Page 1
1. Name in full in native language
- This must match your passport (if written there) or birth certificate. You cannot leave out any names, such as patronymics, “bin” or “binti”, middle names, etc.
- If your passport does not specify surname/family name and given names, then use your own discretion to separate them
- If English is your native language/script, be sure to fill in this blank in English (block capitals!), even if the next line is identical!
- If you can’t type your name in your native language in the form, try to insert it using other software or handwrite it after printing
- Vietnamese applicants: Write your names in the order they appear on your passport, even though that means your “given” and “middle” names will be in the opposite spaces
In Roman block capitals
Same as above. Double-check your passport, especially if you’re from Russia or a former Soviet Republic – sometimes you have middle names that appear only in Cyrillic, so leave those out in the English section.
Straightforward- just don’t forget to check one!
Make sure to check this one, too.
Enter the name of the country not the adjective. For example, write “USA” not “American.”
If you have multiple nationalities, write the one for the country you live in/ the passport you will use when you enter Japan
2-2. Japanese Nationality
If you have multiple nationalities and one if Japanese, you are not eligible for the scholarship unless you revoke your Japanese nationality.
3. Date of Birth and age as of April 1 [of scholarship year]
For the month, day, and year, use all numbers- do not write out month names.
Age: About one quarter of applicants get this wrong! It is not your current age, but the age that you will be on April 1 of the year you start the scholarship. If your birthday falls between the date that you fill in the form and April 1, you need to add a year to your age.
Note: In Japan, as in most Western countries, you are age 0 when born. If you come from a country that counts babies as age 1 at birth, you are going to need to convert.
Please see the instructions in the supporting documents article for instructions regarding the photograph. Paste – do not staple – one photograph in the square given here.
4. Present status with the name of the university attended or employer
This one is also a constant source of confusion. You need to fill in two things here:
- If you are currently enrolled in a university, write “Student at [university name]”
- If you are not enrolled in a university and you are working full time, write: “[Job title] at [company name]”
- If you are not enrolled in a university and not working full time, then your status is “Unemployed.”
Note: “Recent Graduate,” “Fresh Graduate,” etc. are not acceptable statuses.
5. Present address, telephone/facsimilie number, and E-mail address.
Write your present address so that if I write that on an envelope and nothing else, the letter will reach you- that means you need everything from your room number up to your country name
Note: Be sure to write in English! (I used to get addresses in Chinese or people who write an overseas address in katakana – don’t do that!)
Telephone (include the country code!) and email are straightforward. Don’t worry if you don’t have a fax machine- that’s not required.
6. Field of specialization studied in the past (Be as detailed and specific as possible)
The scholarship eligibility criteria require that your field of study in Japan match what you have studied before, so when you fill in this question, write your past studies in such a way as to sound as similar to your proposed field of study as possible.
The biggest problem I saw with this field was leaving it blank. Don’t do that.
7. Academic Background (Page 2)The academic background table only makes sense if you know how the Japanese education system works and exactly what they’re looking for.
Here’s what those confusing directions really want:
Primary Education, etc.
Japan’s education system follows a 6-3-3-4 pattern: Six years of elementary, three each of lower and upper middle, then four years of college.
Regardless of how schooling is broken up in your home country, you’re going to be expected to write it according to the Japanese pattern. It can be 6-2-4-4, 5-3-4-4, or any other pattern, but make sure you divide your schooling into each of the categories on the table- only the “graduate” row is optional.
That means that even if your elementary and middle school was the same school (or if your lower- and upper- middle school) was the same physical school, you should divide it up on the chart.
If you Attended Multiple Schools for One Row:
In the “name” field, write “multiple – see attachment” and attach a paper with an identical style table, but with rows only for the level of schooling you need to explain.
For example, if you attended two high schools, then your attachment would have two “high school” rows and nothing else.
On the attached paper, fill in each of the fields as explained below.
Back on the application form: Leave the “location” blank in the form (fill it in on the attached paper).
Complete the “from” field with the date you started your first school and “to” with the date you finished the last school.
The “Duration of Attendance” should be the total time for all schools attended for that row. Calculate each separately on the attached paper and then add them together here.
In the right-hand column, write that you transferred schools, and the reason. You should also fill in this same information in the attachment.
Remember, no abbreviating proper names.
Write only the city and country name (still no abbreviations).
Year and Month of Entrance and Completion
The “From” date is the date that the school year started in your first year and the “To” date is the last day of the school year. These dates may not necessarily match the dates you were in class.
Check your transcript and your graduation certificates. If there are dates written on those certificates, then the dates in your form must match!
If you don’t know the exact dates, try to contact the school- most keep that sort of thing on record. In the worst case scenario and you can only find out the month, that should be enough, but fill in the 1st, middle, or last day of the month, whichever is closest.
Haven’t graduated yet? Fill in the month and day that you are scheduled to graduate. This date must match whatever is written on your certificate of expected graduation.
Years and Months
This field is the probably the most difficult to get right on the whole form.
“Years” should be school years. In Japan, the official school year starts on April 1 and ends on March 31 (even though class dates are different). So, in Japan, primary school is exactly 6 years, for example, and Monbukagakusho doesn’t understand any other system, so you should match this style.
If your school year starts in September and ends in June, like in the US, you should still count that as 1 school year when you fill in the table. So, if you started High School on September 1, 2010 and finished on June 30, 2014, that is 4 years and 0 months, not 3 years and 10 months.
“Months” is anything less than a full school year. If you finished a semester early, or a semester late, you would enter that in the “months” category.
Note: The number in “months” should be less than 12. I saw a lot of applicants write “4 years and 48 months.” Don’t do that.
When you add up the total time spent at the bottom of the table, note that there is no months category, so you’ll have to convert months to a decimal. So, 15 years 6 months becomes 15.5 years.
Diploma or Degree Awarded, Major Subject, Skipped Years/Levels
Most people won’t need to fill in anything in this field for Primary or Secondary.
If you skipped a grade, took a year off school, transferred schools, etc., then you should fill that in.
If you went to a specific science high school, or something like that, you could fill that in, too. But in most cases, it’s not necessary.
For the Undergraduate Level (and Graduate Level, if applicable), fill in your Major and Minor and the name of your degree.
Page 3 – The Hard Part is Over, Just a Few Tricks Left!
Only published works should go here. Books, journal articles, or conference presentations that were published in a conference summary publication are all OK.
9. Employment Record
This is one of the rare fields you can leave blank. It won’t hurt you if you do.
List only paid employment here (no unpaid internships) and be sure to begin with the most recent.
For the dates, be sure to write at least year and month (day, if possible).
10. Japanese Language Proficiency
It ismandatory to fill in each row, even if you have no ability. If you have no ability, check “Poor” (the Japanese header actually means “no ability”, so you’re not lying or inflating your ability, don’t worry).
11. Language Ability
Same as above, the first four rows are mandatory. The “fill in your own language” row at the bottom is the only one that can be left blank.
Yes, my university used to send back applications to be resubmitted (and in some cases, resent by post if there was any handwriting on the page) when these fields were empty.
I’m not saying that’s the right way to handle it (I don’t think it is), but be aware that some universities are going to be that strict!
12. Past Awarded Record
If you have received any form of Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarship in the past, check yes and fill in the dates (year and month) as well as the university.
Remember from the Eligibility article that you must have at least three years of education and research activities between the end of your last MEXT scholarship and the start date of your new one. Some scholarship categories are exempt, so see the eligibility article for details.
Page 4 – The Signature Page: Make No Errors Here!
13. Accompanying Dependents
If you have a spouse or children that you want to bring with you to Japan, enter their information here.
The form itself, and Japanese universities, are going to advise you to come alone first to Japan and to invite your family later. This is so you can get settled on your own and find appropriate housing for your whole family (careful- it will be quite a bit more expensive than a single studio).
Another practical reason is that the Japanese university and MEXT are not going to help you at all with your family’s immigration paperwork, so you have to be in Japan to do all the Certificate of Eligibility paperwork for them, anyway.
Really, the only important thing about this field is that you cannot have the same person listed in both this field and the next one!
14. Person to be notified in applicant’s home country in case of an emergency
Basically, if you die in Japan, who should the university call to pick up your body and bring it home to your country?
I know that sounds morbid, but MEXT wants a point of contact that is that close to you.
The person should also meet the following criteria:
- Must not be listed in the accompanying dependents question (13) above
- Must have an email address and access to a phone
- Should, if at all possible, have English or Japanese language ability
- Be an immediate family member if possible
When I was reviewing these, any time an applicant wrote “friend,” “boyfriend/girlfriend,” “supervisor,” or anything other than a close family member, we would flag it for follow up. That means that until the applicant replied to explain why they hadn’t filled in a close family member, their application wasn’t getting reviewed.
If you cannot enter an immediate family member, you should briefly explain why in the “relationship to you” line (in addition to writing their relationship, of course!)
For example: “Only English-speaking family friend- will relay messages”, “Closest living relative”, “Only family member with email”, etc.
The only “optional” detail in this question is the fax number. Everything else, must be complete.
Be prepared to face scrutiny on the email address, in particular. If it is the same as your email address, or if it is blank, that will not be accepted.
Caution: Since this field is on the same page as your signature, if you have to make any changes, you will have to submit the whole thing again by post!
Immigration Records to Japan
You will need the exact dates as stamped in your passport.
In the purpose column, include both the type of visa/residence status and your reason for coming to Japan. (e.g. “Short Term Stay – tourism”)
If you are currently in Japan, for example, finishing up an undergraduate degree in Japan and graduating in March, fill in your projected date of departing Japan (within 2 weeks of graduation) and explain that in the Purpose column.
Last Thing: Date, Signature, and Name
Make sure you fill it in! You’ve come this far, don’t screw up your application by leaving this blank. (Yes, I’ve seen it done too many times to count).
Note that your name must be in all capital letters.
Before asking any questions in the comments below, please read through the MEXT Scholarship Application FAQ top page and specific FAQ pages to see what I’ve answered already and to find tips about how to get your questions answered faster.
You can ask your questions in the comments here, on the FAQ page, or by email and I will answer them by updating the FAQ and letting you know when the answers are available.
I’d also recommend signing up for my mailing list to get notified whenever I have updates to any of the FAQs or new articles about the MEXT scholarship!
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