Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said it has to be studied if all 700 Bhutanese youth sent to Japan through the “learn and earn” programme were facing the kind of problems that have been reported in the media.

Lyonchhen was responding to a question from Dewathang-Gomdar MP Ugyen Dorji in the National Assembly yesterday on what measures the government would put in place to ensure that Bhutanese youth working and studying abroad do not face problems.

Lyonchhen said that a team of officials from relevant agencies would be sent to Japan to study the opportunities for study and jobs.

He said the government was weighing the possibility of postponing the loan repayment deadline. “If they cannot pay the loan at the moment, we will discuss the possibility of delaying the loan repayment time until they learn the language and get a proper job,” he said.

Requesting the students to work hard and remain back in Japan, he said that since Japan was a developed country, life would be good once they get a job.

He promised that the government would do its best to help the youth that are facing problems. However, he also said that people needed to change their attitude with the change in time.

“People are going to a developed country where they have to work hard. I doubt if the relevant agencies and the students had realised it before going to Japan. Otherwise, we will face a cultural shock,” he said.

MP Ugyen Dorji said the unemployment problem was becoming severe by the year. One of the solutions to the unemployment problem has been overseas employment programmes such as the “learn and earn” programme, through which youth are sent for work and study in Japan. He said that some of the affected students reached the Opposition’s office to appraise of the problem.

The MP said that students should not be blamed for the problems they are facing because of the overseas employment programmes. He said that it was the labour ministry and the agent that has failed to execute the programme successfully.

The government and the employment agent, Ugyen Dorji said, had not taken responsibility and accountability.

The prime minister said that finding solutions to the unemployment problem was not only the government’s responsibility but also that of all political parties and citizens. “With development, such problems are bound to arise,” he said.

Dr Lotay Tshering said the government carefully studied the problems faced by the students and that it has come to the conclusion that the issue was not as bad as it is portrayed in the media.

“There are still about 700 students in Japan sustaining themselves. One of our ministers’ daughter is in Japan and we know how they are doing,” he said.

However, he admitted that the earning was not enough to meet all the expenses and that the government was looking at how they can help the students. He said that such programmes that will be executed in the future would be carefully examined.

“We request those in Japan to stay and learn the Japanese language. They are supposed to get jobs depending on their skills,” he said.

MB Subba