On June 2, 2023, the Act on Accrediting Japanese Language Education Institutions to Ensure Proper and Reliable Implementation of Japanese Language Education (Act on Accrediting Japanese Language Education Institutions) was published in the official gazette. (Act No. 41 of 2023.) This law establishes a system for certifying Japanese language educational institutions that meet certain requirements to provide Japanese language education to foreigners in Japan. It also determines the qualifications of Japanese language education teachers who work at the accredited Japanese language educational institutions. (Art. 1.) The act will take effect on April 1, 2024. (Act No. 41 of 2023, supp. provision, art. 1.)
Background to the Act
As the number of foreigners in Japan has increased, so has the need for Japanese language education. In 2019, the number of persons studying Japanese as a foreign language in Japan peaked at about 278,000, with the numbers declining in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID pandemic. In 2019, the Act on Japanese Language Education Promotion was enacted. (Act No. 48 of 2019.) It established the responsibilities of the national government, local governments, and business owners for promoting Japanese language education, and formulated basic policies and other matters. (Art. 1.) The supplemental provision of the act stated that the national government must examine the accreditation of Japanese language education institutions. (Supp. art. 2.)
The Accreditation and Licensing System
The establisher of a Japanese language educational institution may apply to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) for accreditation of the institution as one that is capable of properly and reliably providing Japanese language education. (Act on Accrediting Japanese Language Education Institutions art. 2.) MEXT will publicize accredited schools on its website and by other means. (Art. 3.) The accredited schools can advertise that they are accredited. (Art. 5.) Under this system, the government expects that persons looking for schools can choose creditable schools. When an accredited school loses teachers or deviates from the teaching method or courses that were the basis for the accreditation, MEXT may give advice or a warning to the school. (Art. 12.)
The system for licensing Japanese language teachers will establish standards of skills and knowledge. To be licensed, an applicant must pass the national exam and complete a training course under licensed institutions. (Art. 17.) The Agency for Cultural Affairs under MEXT is planning to provide simplified teacher requirements for current Japanese language teachers.
Sayuri Umeda, Law Library of Congress
August 23, 2023
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