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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 January 16 - 22  > Student loan-induced bankruptcy on rise under Abe government
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2019 January 16 - 22 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Student loan-induced bankruptcy on rise under Abe government

January, 21, 2019

More and more young people are experiencing personal bankruptcy due to heavy student loan burdens under the policies of the Abe government which keeps increasing funding for the defense industry.

The Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), an independent administrative agency that provides “loan-type scholarship” programs for students, says that between 2012 and 2016, a total of 7,633 “scholarship” loan borrowers obtained relief from their student loans after filing personal bankruptcy. On the other hand, since 2012 when the second Abe Cabinet was inaugurated, the amount of the defense budget has steadily increased and set all-time highs for the last five years in a row.

University tuitions are now at the highest level ever, regardless of whether an institution is national, public, or private. With workers’ real wages declining, students and their parents are forced to shoulder heavier financial burdens.

A 20-year-old student at a national university in Tokyo, who borrows a total of 150,000 yen a month (50,000 yen without interest and 100,000 yen with interest) under student loan programs, expressed concern over the future repayment of the debt which will amount to a few million yen at the time of graduation. Criticizing the Abe government for its pledge to purchase a large amount of U.S.-made weapons, the student said, “Learning from European nations, Japan should work to make higher education more accessible to all by introducing free education, grant-type scholarship programs, and other measures that will benefit students.

Aoyama Gakuin University Professor Shin Hae Bong, who is the president of the international humanitarian NGO Human Rights Now, at a press conference held last month criticized the Abe government for slashing education and social insurance budgets while beefing up defense spending. Shin said, “The government gives priority to the purchase of weapons from the U.S. over people’s right to live. Such a fiscal policy is utterly wrong.”

Researchers and law experts, including Shin, last year jointly published a statement opposing the proposed increase in military spending and demanding more government expenditure for education and social welfare. This statement is attracting support from a wide range of the general public.

Past related articles:
> The amount borrowed for enrolling in private universities hits record high [April 5, 2018]
> Civil group urges Education Ministry to improve ‘grant-type’ scholarship program [August 4, 2017]
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