Skip to content

Legal Issues

In addition to the moral and practical aspects of student conduct at the Center, there are important legal concerns that must be taken into account. Many students are granted visas to reside in Japan under the official sponsorship of JCMU and Shiga Prefecture. The Resident Director of JCMU assumes the responsibility of serving as “guarantor” for these program participants.

These participants thus bear a reciprocal responsibility to the Resident Director for their behavior in Japan. Students with “student visas” (generally those starting in the fall semester) also have a reciprocal responsibility to the President of the University of Shiga Prefecture. In both cases, students must be scrupulous in observing the mores of the community, the rules of the Program, and the laws of the country. Failure to do so endangers the trust established between the governments of Shiga and Michigan, and the continuance of the program itself. Some specific rules on drugs, employment and driving require special mention here. These restrictions are rigidly enforced to protect students as individuals from being jailed or deported, and to protect JCMU itself from censure.

Drug Use:

Illegal drug use in Japan carries much heavier consequences than in the United States.  Laws are harsher and more strictly enforced, and public opinion against drug use is much stronger. Anyone violating the prohibition on drug use will be dismissed from the program without further warning. Students with other substance abuse problems (even with legal substances such as alcohol) may also be sent home.


In general, students are not allowed to work during their stay at JCMU. JCMU students’ sole purpose for coming to Japan is to study Japanese language and culture. Unauthorized employment could jeopardize the student’s continued stay at JCMU.  Students may, however, participate in non-paid internships.


JCMU students are not allowed to own or operate motorized vehicles. The restriction on driving a motorized vehicle while in Japan relates to the Japanese concept of liability, which is both broader and more severe than in the US. An accident while driving would affect not only the driver, but also the organizations of which he or she is a member--the Japan Center and the Shiga Prefecture Government. Neither the Japan Center nor the Prefecture can accept the social censure and fiscal liability that even a minor accident could bring.

Return to Handbook