Most local governments in Japan started to grant educational subsidies to Korean schools in the 1970s. These funds have been valuable financial resources in the day to day running of Korean schools because they have never been financial supported from the central government. However, as a result the central government’s exclusion of the Korean high schools from the “Tuition Waiver and Tuition Support Fund Program”, since the fiscal year 2010, some local governments suddenly suspended subsidies to the schools. In spite of the 2014 recommendation by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)which advised local governments to resume or maintain subsidies to the Korean schools, in 2016 the central government issued a notice prompting local governments to suspend subsidies. As a result, the number of local governments suspending subsidies to Korean schools has been increasing.
In Japan, since the 1970s and despite the central government never having provided subsidies to Korean schools, most local governments have been offering educational subsidies to Korean schools at the prefectural and municipal levels. This was a consequence of nationwide Korean activism which demanded a right to ethnic education. Despite the central government’s refusal to accredit Korean schools even as “miscellaneous schools” (an accreditation that receives lesser subsidies to Japanese schools), all local governments with Korean schools accredited the schools as “miscellaneous schools” contrary to the central government’s policy. This was the beginning of subsidies for the Korean school and a recognition that Korean ethnic education contributes to public interest.
The local government subsidies for Korean schools have varied according to location. As of 2009, on average the subsidies have been approximately one-tenth of Japanese public schools and one-third of Japanese private schools. Despite the subsidy being very small amount compared to Japanese schools, it has become a valuable financial resource in operating the schools, which have had no financial support from the central government.
However, the discriminatory measures which exclude Korean school students from the Tuition Waiver Program by the central government（⇒Q１）have led some local governments to suspend subsidies to Korean since 2010. In the fiscal year 2010, the former Tokyo Metropolitan governor Shintarou Ishihara who is a notorious ultra-right politician deferred subsidies to ten Korean schools in Tokyo. Further in the same year, Toru Hashimoto, the former Osaka governor and Osaka city mayor who became internationally famous after he remarked that “Japanese Army comfort women” in WWII were a “necessity”, also suspended subsidies to the Korean schools in Osaka.
Despite granting subsidies to Korean schools for decades since 2010, 12 prefectural governments out of 28 prefectures where Korean schools are located have suspended subsidies. The prefectural governments responsible for suspending subsidies include Tokyo, Osaka, Saitama, Miyagi, Chiba, Kanagawa, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Niigata, Ibaraki, Mie and Wakayama. Reasons given for suspending the subsidies are the political and diplomatic relations between Japan and DPRK. Likewise, other cities-Osaka, Hiroshima and Yokohama have suspended their subsidies in accordance with prefectural decisions.
The schools where subsidies have been cut have been facing extreme financial difficulty. They had no choice but to raise their tuition and extra-curricula fees. As a result some parents have given up sending their children to Korean schools.
In 2014, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) pointed out that the suspension of subsidies by local governments was the “government’s policy to deny the right of ethnic education to Korean children.” In addition to the exclusion of Korean high schools from the “Tuition Waiver Program”, CERD recommended the Japanese government “invite local governments to resume or maintain the provision of subsidies to Korean schools”. （⇒Q９）
In spite of this recommendation, in March 2016 the Japanese government issued a notice to each local government where Korean schools are located. The communication was titled “[p]oints to be noted concerning subsidies relating to Korean schools”. It did not refer to CERD’s concern and recommendation, instead the Japanese government put pressure on local governments to suspend the subsidies to Korean schools demanding that local governments reconsider in light of “public interest and the promotion of education.”
In fact, in the fiscal year 2016 the governor of Ibaraki prefecture suspended the subsidies to the Ibaraki Korean School in March 2017, as a result of these instructions from the central government. Likewise, several other local governments have reconsidered the subsidies they grant to Korean schools. In other words, the Japanese central government has not honored the recommendation by the international human rights body. The action of the Japanese government demonstrates a political intention to bully Korean schools as a way to “sanction” the DPRK.
The suspension of subsidies by local governments has been strongly opposed by supporters who have struggled to provide ethnic education through the Korean schools. For example, in 2012, the Osaka Korean School has filed a lawsuit against Osaka prefecture and Osaka city, demanding that both governments resume subsidies to the schools.