In February 1988, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology established a study abroad system for high school students in which schools award 30 credits for the year spent abroad. The system was implemented from April of the same year. Many high school students study abroad either using their own resources or foundation scholarships, etc.
A total of 4,186 high school students (1,919 public school and 2,267 private school students) from 1,650 schools studied abroad for more three months or more in 1998. This figure represented a 6.6% decrease from 4,481 students studying abroad in 1996. The United States was the most common destination, with 2,043 students, followed by Australia with 565, New Zealand with 446, Canada with 408, and the United Kingdom with 248.
A total of 1,350 foreign exchange students studied at 785 Japanese high schools (623 at public schools and 727 at private schools) for three months or more in 1998. These students came from fifty countries, the most common of which was Australia (355), followed by the United States (238), China (140), Canada (115) and New Zealand (63). (From the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology report, Heisei 10-nendo kotogakko ni okeru kokusai koryu nado no jokyo [Conditions of International Exchange, etc. in Senior High Schools for fiscal 1998], 1999.)