FIFTEEN Negrense professionals will study Japanese language and culture for two years in Japan.

The first batch of scholars are Jan Leonard Abrasaldo, Marlon Undan, Emee Joy Baylon, Jireh Grace Espartero, Marilyn Galvez, Renz Jason Maja, John Dee Pasague, Aljan Sendico, James Tillaman and Jennelyn Boquail.

They arrived in Japan on April 3 and are now undergoing a seven-day quarantine in their respective apartments.

The second batch included Joy Aldover, Andrea Amisola, Mara Christyl Santisteban, Vanessa Viñas and Christal Aina Villar. They are scheduled to travel on Friday, April 8.

The Provincial Government of Negros Occidental, in a statement, said the scholarship program is in coordination with The Cooperative Association for Yomiuri Shimbun Distribution Services Inc. based in Chiba, Japan with Fumio Mizuno as its focal person.

The Negros Occidental Scholarship Program Division (NOSPD) facilitated the scholarship and travel documents of the scholars as part of the education and career support program of the province.

The scholars underwent basic Japanese and culture training at Oisca-Bago Training Center prior to their departure.

After their two years study in Japan, the scholars must pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) in order for them to enter a business school in Japan.

To support themselves while studying in Japan, the scholars will work part-time in different newspaper companies under the association for Yomiuri Shimbun.

The first batch of scholars were supposed to travel to Japan in 2020 but was hampered because of border closure due to the pandemic.

Provincial Administrator Atty. Rayfrando Diaz II advised the scholars, who paid a courtesy visit to him and Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson recently, to take good care of their health because it will allow them to continue pursuing their dreams.

"They must always keep their thoughts and dedication to their work," he added.

For his part, Lacson said the success and failure of the scholars lies in their hands.

What's important, he said, is that they will be happy and will be able to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

"This definitely will be a life changing experience and that you will feel empowered after two years, but along the way, there will be struggles and I hope you are ready for that because there is no turning back," the governor said.

Lacson added that, "I want to tell you that Japan values loyalty so I hope you don't decide to leave the company that is helping you and giving you the break." (With Capitol reports)