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Japan: Public Support for High School Tuition

(May 3, 2010) On March 31, 2010, the Diet (Japan's parliament) enacted a law to subsidize all or part of high school tuition (Kōritsu kōtō gakkō ni kakaru jugyō ryō no fu chōshu oyobi kōtō gakkō tō shūgaku shien kin no shikyū ni kansuru hōritsu (hereinafter Tuition Law), Law No. 18 of 2010). Tuition for public high schools established by local governments will be paid by the national government. The monthly amount is set at ¥9,900 (about US$100). (Tuition Law, art. 3, ¶ 2; Free High School Tuition Law Enforcement Order (hereinafter Order), Order No. 112 of 2010, art. 1, ¶ 1.) The amount paid for high school tuition is the same whether the school is a national one or private. If a high school student's household income is low, the tuition support amount may be doubled. (Tuition Law, art. 6; Order, arts. 3 & 4.)

Whether or not North Korean high schools are regarded as high schools to which the law applies has been debated. The law does apply to foreign high schools in Japan if the curricula are verified by international organizations and to schools that the Japanese government has recognized as having curricula equivalent to the foreign countries' official curriculum. North Korean schools are a special case, because the content of North Korean school education includes extreme admiration of Kim Il-song and Kim Jong-il and anti-Japan and anti-United States propaganda. In addition, Japan is imposing economic sanctions against North Korea, the country that supports North Korean schools, because North Korea abducted Japanese nationals in the past and has not returned the abductees or given trustworthy explanations and evidence concerning their deaths. The issue was not decided before the law was enacted. A committee that the Education Ministry establishes will examine special high schools and decide to which schools the law will apply. (Keiai suru Kim sō shoki” 107 kai, nichi-bei ni tekitai … Chōsen gakkō “gendai Chōsen shi [107 times “Dear Leader Kim,” anti-Japan and anti-USA descriptions … North Korean schools' “History of Modern Korea”], SANKEI NEWSPAPER, Mar. 11, 2010, available at; Chōsen gakkō no handan wa natsu ikō ni [Decision on North Korean schools will come after summer], SANKEI NEWSPAPER, Mar. 25, 2010,; Kiyoko Miichi, Kōkō mushō ka hō seiritsu 4 gatsu 1 tachi shikō Chōsen gakkō wa tōmen taishō gai [Free High School Tuition Law enacted, effective on April 1, North Korean schools are excluded for now], ASAHI SHINBUN, Mar. 31, 2010, available at