Asahi Watashi no Shiten: Schools for NJ children deserve GOJ support


Hi Blog. An excellent roundup of what’s been covered on for quite some time–the emerging underclass of NJ children without an education guaranteed them in Japan. Here are the problems in nutshell. Debito


POINT OF VIEW/ Nobuyuki Sato: Schools for foreign children deserve support

01/28/2008 The Asahi Shinbun

Courtesy of Steve Silver

More than 2.08 million foreigners now live in Japan. With the rise in international marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese, the number of children who have dual nationality is also increasing. Of them, tens of thousands attend schools for foreigners.

Currently, there are about 100 schools for North and South Korean and Chinese children. In recent years, a growing number of people from South America and elsewhere have settled in Japan.

Schools to accommodate children of such “newcomers” are also increasing. There are 94 Brazilian schools and also schools for children from Peru, India, the Philippines and other countries. The total number of schools for newcomers exceeds 100.

Chinese schools in Japan have a history of more than 100 years, while ethnic Koreans from North and South Korea established schools for their children after World War II to teach them the language and cultures of their motherland. Thus, schools for foreigners in Japan have various backgrounds.

Schools for newcomers are concentrated in the Tokai and northern Kanto regions, home to many Brazilians and Peruvians who work as dispatch employees at automakers and other factories.

A Brazilian school in Ibaraki Prefecture celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. It started out as an unauthorized day-care center for children whose parents work at factories from early morning until late at night. As the children grew, the center set up elementary and junior high school classes.

The government does not recognize schools for foreigners as regular schools that provide general education. Therefore, they do not receive any government subsidies. Most of the schools are supported by donations from fellow countrymen.

While donations to European and American schools are now tax-exempt, the same rule does not apply to North and South Korean and Chinese schools, which are also categorized as kakushu gakko (miscellaneous schools).

Since most schools of newcomers are not even recognized as kakushu gakko but are treated as “private juku,” they are not even eligible for subsidies from local governments.

Some local governments have eased authorization standards for kakushu gakko. But in Gunma, Saitama and other prefectures that apply strict standards for authorization, it is difficult for most schools for newcomers to meet the requirements. Many of them rent small factories that went out of business and split them into six to nine classrooms to give lessons. Such schools do not even have gymnasiums or schoolyards.

Japanese children are guaranteed free compulsory education at public elementary and junior high schools. Accredited private schools also receive generous government subsidies. However, when parents of foreign nationality enroll their children at foreign schools because they want them to learn the languages and cultures of their homelands, they are not eligible for public support measures.

Moreover, at schools not authorized as kakushu gakko, consumption tax is imposed on tuition. Since students are not eligible for a student commuter pass, parents are required to bear a heavier financial burden than their counterparts at Japanese schools.

Although there are more than 200 foreign schools in Japan, few public subsidies apply to them. Most of the schools rely on the self-help efforts of foreign communities alone and are excluded from the realm of public education.

I believe there are few countries in the world like Japan where foreign schools are at a disadvantage compared with regular schools.

As Japan is about to become a “multinational, multiracial and multicultural” society, it is time we break away from “national education” and switch to “multiracial and multicultural symbiotic education.”

For that, we must establish guidelines for education that embrace multiracial and multicultural values and immediately implement systematic support, such as legislation to promote measures for schools for foreigners.

Doing so also meets Japan’s obligation under the international conventions on human rights including the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It is also the duty of adults for children of the 21st century.

* * *

The author heads the research-action institute for Koreans in Japan. (IHT/Asahi: January 28,2008)


5 comments on “Asahi Watashi no Shiten: Schools for NJ children deserve GOJ support

  • “Japan’s obligations under the international conventions on human rights including the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
    Like the UN convention on non-discrimination…??? And the UN Declaration on Human Rights??? Just nice pieces of paper to show the visitors! Hone…tatae-mae, neh? (O M E R T A!)

    Just count the internicene murders: child-murders and elder-murders, along with murder-arsons etc. etc. over the past 90 days. Almost at massacre proportions, something like 200 people?………and all Japanese done, targeted and victimized. (Sweep under the carpet, OK?) Wink, wink!

    “But the REAL problems, you know Hatoyama-sama,” (whist-whist-whist) (sub-voce), “are the foreigners! They put plastic out on paper days! They put steel cans into the alumi-can boxes….shame! shame! shame!”

    “What are we to do? They break the RULES!”



    (Offline D.): Just seems like every day I flip on the TV, open (any) paper, either language as I sit in either the barber’s, the coin laundry or a doctor/dentist’s waiting room there just seems to be an endless stream of known-person to known-person fatal attack, (involving children), not counting the random, run of the mill, chance of the moment “see what I can get ji-ken” which ends up in somebody dying. And my posting (statistics being mental-math-estimates from gleaning the published info on BS 1 country-wide round up news (usually broadcast 1300h-1400h weekdays). Trust me, this is not a “hateful invective”…and the numbers may be more/less than 200 in actual numbers, but not by much, I actually like Japanese people, promise! I’m just plain T I R E D (in the most exhaustive sense) of seeing NJ portrayed as the demons, when the majority of the demons are home-grown!

    Happy setsu-bun! Oni-wa-soto….!

  • Edie Spencer says:

    The thing is, with multicultural/multinational slant, the funding comes by structuring the schools as a charter- where the education would have to meet a certain goverment standards. For example, the Japanese- American schools here have to meet the standards for the State of Oregon in reading, social studies, the sciences and mathemetics, in addition to having fluency in Japanese. By meeting standards, the charter schools are able to to secure a portion, if not al, of their funding.

    This could be a way that the different communities in Japan could secure funding- agree to meet standards while being able to teach culture and language of different homelands. I got the feeling in the article that foreigners’ schools do a great job with limited resources, none of those groups approached he government to establish a charter style education- one that ensure the continuation of the homeland culture while preparing the young people to be part of Japanese culture.

  • I really dont understand why Japan need to subsidize schools that are not teaching Japanese. Even American schools should not be allowed tax-exempt status. Japanese schools are to educate students in the ways of Japan. If other countries would prefer their own countries culture, then they should decide to fund it themselves.

  • Hi Robert,
    Appreciate your opinion, but I pay taxes here in Japan. Some of those taxes fund the educational system. Should I not benefit from paying those taxes? Please see the bigger picture – hope you don’t want all us non-Japanese to leave? 🙂 My taxes should partially be used to subsidize the school which my kids attend – Japanese or not. Incidentally, the school which I’ve chosen teaches kokugo at the same level as Japanese schooled kids.


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