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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 26 - August 1  > Government ordered to provide tuition-free program to Korean schools in Japan
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2017 July 26 - August 1 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Government ordered to provide tuition-free program to Korean schools in Japan

July 29, 2017
The Osaka District Court on July 28 issued a ruling nullifying a government decision to exclude Korean high schools from the tuition-free program as such a decision is illegal.

In the ruling, presiding judge Nishida Takahiro pointed out that the exclusion was made based on political and diplomatic concerns and departed from the program’s principle of ensuring equal educational opportunities for all children. Recognizing such an act as illegal, the judge ordered the government to include a North Korean school in Osaka in the tuition-free program.

The program to make public high schools tuition free began in 2010 under the Democratic Party-led government. At that time, the Education Ministry set a condition under which non-Japanese schools can be entitled to apply for the program with the ministerial designation. Thus, North Korean schools in Japan requested the ministry to qualify them for the tuition-free system. In 2013, however, the Abe government removed the provision and decided to reject the Korean schools’ request on the grounds of the issue of North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals.

Following the government decision, lawsuits seeking the entitlement of North Korean high schools to the tuition-free program were filed with five district courts such as Tokyo and Nagoya. Among these lawsuits, this is the first time that the court declared the government decision to be illegal.

As a member of the international community, it is Japan’s responsibility to provide learning opportunities to foreign children in Japan in line with the international human rights instruments and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Japanese Communist Party at various opportunities, including Diet deliberations, proclaimed that international rules state that children’s right to learn should be protected wherever they live, urging the Japanese government not to exclude students with certain ethnic backgrounds from the tuition-free program.

Past related article:
> Don’t exempt Korean schools from tuition-free program: students demand [February 8, 2013]
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