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ISIC japanISIC Japan, which was established in January of this year by the non-profit ISIC Association, an organisation that issues the UNESCO approved International Student Identity Card, hosted a re-launch reception at the residence of the Netherlands ambassador to Japan on 27 May, and announced that it will reinforce activities to promote and increase the widespread use of the International Student Identity Card (ISIC card) in Japan, in cooperation with businesses and communities.

The purpose is to support a deeper exploration by students of various countries and cultures by providing significant travel, cultural discounts and benefits to Japanese students, and local offers and discounts to foreign students in Japan in a world where globalisation is accelerating.

The ISIC card, launched in 1953, is the only student identification card that is widely recognised on an international level; ISIC cards are issued each year to 4.5 million students in over 130 countries around the world. Currently, students holding an ISIC card can enjoy benefits on over 40,000 products and services at over 125,000 locations worldwide, as such servicing students in every aspect of student life.

In Japan, ISIC card distribution has declined in recent years from 60,000 cards to 30,000 cards in 2013. The number is considerably low especially compared to the growing number of cards issued yearly in the neighbouring countries of South Korea (109,000 cards in 2013) and Taiwan (114,000 cards in 2013). In parallel, the number of Japanese students studying overseas has also seen a declining trend.

ISIC Japan Managing Director Martijn van de Veen, stated in his speech, “Based on the mission of the ISIC Association, which is to ‘deepen international understanding by facilitating opportunities for travel and interchange between students, youth, and the academic world,’ ISIC Japan is cooperating with various companies and organisations, to increase ISIC card distribution in Japan, through the increase of specially negotiated travel opportunities for ISIC holders. In addition, ISIC Japan endeavors to expand the added value of the ISIC card so that students studying in Japan can enjoy merits in every aspect of student life.”

Mr van de Veen expects that this approach, which has proven successful in other markets, will support the Japanese government in its aims to encourage more Japanese students to study abroad, and will reduce the cost of student life in general.

The ISIC card goes beyond the bounds of a mere identification card. Currently, more than 1,500 universities worldwide have upgraded their student identification cards to ISIC affiliated, and as such UNESCO endorsed student identification cards, a strategy that will also be applied in Japan. In addition, more services will be included in the ISIC card such as payment (bank card), transportation or affinity programme cards. A first example to be launched later this year, will be an ISIC – credit card, in cooperation with MasterCard Japan and Orient Corporation.

More than 100 people including senior government officials and representatives from UNESCO, universities, and companies participated in the reception, and the packed residence of the Dutch Ambassador expanded the circle of informal discussions relating to student globalisation.