There are a lot of matters for you to prepare
a) Application form:
Basically its similar to your first application form; with extra information on your language abilities including JLPT, IELTS or TOEFL. I took all three, so I managed to fill up most of the information required.
b) Placement Preference Form
This is very important and crucial. There are certain strategies to go about passing the interview with the appropriate placement universities. You need to understand that the MEXT scholarship is under the Japanese Government, hence National Universities will definitely be a better choice when selection takes place. You may include up to 3 preferred universities in the list, but I personally only included one because I have contacted my supervisor in Hokkaido University way before MEXT application started. There a few set of rules saying that you aren't allowed to contact the universities' professors before you pass this interview, but some rules don't apply when you have gotten your contacts and networking paved before hand.
c) Field of Study and Study Program
This form will be relatively easy if you have had a title of post-graduate studies from your prospective supervisors; but extremely frustrating if you start from zero. Hence, I do strongly advocate contacting your potential supervisors to obtain the possible titles for your programs. Start contacting like months before the application so you have ample time to read up on articles and journals which help you in formulating this part.
i) your current field of study
I'm sure most undergraduate programs require the submission of a Final Year Project thesis; so the abstract of your FYP would be going here
When you have received a title, you should know what your title is all about. Basically start of with an introduction on what your title is about, a little bit of background information, past research on the topic, why would your topic be valuable to the progress of your field. Include the reference in the bottom will deem your read up less plagiarizing.
This part takes a lot of your elaboration skills. You will need to know what your research will be about, especially with a timeline to show how you would be planning your studies. I started out with the listing of my primary goals of the PhD program; where the goals will actually be your objectives. As you go with your objectives, describe on how you will be achieving those objectives, how and why your research will be attaining those objectives, and eventually how would your research be benefiting to the field. If you were to be interested in knowing how I've managed to formulate this part, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
d) and e) is basically your academic transcript each semester and the final graduation transcript from your university if you have them
f) Recommendation letter from dean/etc
While they asked for dean, I personally think your FYP supervisor will be the best person to gauge you. They have spent 1 semester working with you to know your attitude towards work, aptitude towards your field as well as your working abilities with your fellow team members etc. I was lucky enough to find my supervisor, who turned out to be a MEXT scholar as well, making my recommendation extra stronger in my opinion.
g) Medical certificate
There is a specific format you need to follow so just bring it to your GP so that they can check it up. University students should make full use of your Pusat Kesihatan Universiti so you pay less.
h) Abstract of thesis.
Once you have prepared all these, get ready for the interview! Try to be earlier because punctuality speaks out more than you think, especially to Japanese. There are few rounds of interviews with few different fields; which are 1) Natural Sciences; 2) Health Sciences; 3) Engineering and 4) Humanities and Social Sciences.
I don't think coat is necessary but its good to have them around.
When I stepped into the room, I was greeted by 5 interviewers;
1) Panel of health sciences who was an ex- MEXT scholar
2) Ambassador of Japan in Malaysia
3) Panel from JPA
4) Panel from Ministry of Education of Malaysia
5) Panel from Japan Information Service.
At least these are the people I thought they were. The questions were basic in the beginning like introduction of yourself, how would Malaysia benefit from your studies in Japan, why is your research important, how was your background in academics etc. I had quite a heated session with one of the panel because of our differences in looking at my title.
a) The panel commented on how ultrasound is not valuable in making diagnosis, where my FYP was on ultrasound. I argued on ultrasound may not be the gold standard, but it gives a good, non-invasive diagnosis on what is going on in the body where patients may benefit much better in a clinical setting. Gold standards are usually very invasive and costly
b) The panel said that the inflammatory mechanism progression into neoplasia have been described in human and also in lab rats, so it is the same with dogs. I refuted that while human and rats have been proven, it hasn't been done in dogs. Research is all about proving something that hasn't been proven, and to make a sweeping statement that human and lab rats' mechanism will be the same as dog is wrong, at least what my university years have taught me.
However, I had a great time with the ambassador; simply because he was impressed with my achievements. He was surprised I scored in my JLPT N2, which wasn't easy for a non-native Japanese speaker. He was also surprised my TOEFL and IELTS scores were very high, showing my aptitude for languages is as strong as to my veterinary studies. Little do I know, the ambassador turned out to be my lecturer's father!
The session ended about 15 to 20 minutes, and I went home. The Interview was conducted in early July; and the result was out in late July. So until that happens, you will need to wait for the email from the embassy.
That's all for part 2, part 3 will be on the submission for Letter of Provisional Acceptance.