Why we have created this website about the Korean schools
You are probably wondering why we have created the website that is exclusively about Korean schools, when there are various other foreign schools in Japan? We needed to create this website because in comparison to other foreign schools, the Korean schools in Japan are unfavorably treated.
Korean schools differ from other foreign schools in their origins. From 1910 to 1945, Japanese colonial rule deprived Koreans of their language, culture and history. After Japan’s defeat in 1945, Koreans took responsibility for their own ethnic education and built small private schools all over Japan. These small private schools were the beginning of today’s Korean schools.
Korea was freed from Japanese colonization when the Japanese Empire formally agreed to the terms of the “Potsdam Declaration” on August 1945. Japan’s defeat was a major turning point in its relationship with the United States. The atomic bombings changed Japan’s perception of the U.S. from “devil” to “ally”. On the other hand, little thought was given on how to deal with the challenge of Koreans left in Japan.
Due to the U.S and Soviet Union involvement in the Cold War the Korean Peninsula was divided with the founding of “Republic of Korea (ROK)” in the south on August 1948 and the “Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)” in the north on September 1948. The Korean War began raged from June 1950 to July 1953. During the time of the Korean War, the San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed in September 1951, and when it came into effect in April 1952 Japan was freed from the occupation of the Allies.
The Japanese government offered no support when the Korean schools were established; instead it adopted policies that reminded Koreans of colonial assimilation through education. Japanese policies denied them of their ethnic heritage. For instance, Japanese authorities forced all Korean schools to close in 1948. The U.S. Occupation authority also joined in the oppression against the schools when it imposed a state of emergency. Furthermore, immediately after the diplomatic relationship between the ROK and Japan was normalized in 1965 the Japanese government issued a formal notification to all 47 local governors who had the authority to accredit Korean schools in each prefecture. The memorandum instructed the prefectures not to accredit Korean schools even as “miscellaneous schools”. The intention of this order was to abolish the Korean schools, however, all local governors autonomously accredited the Korean schools as “miscellaneous schools.”
In September 2002, the “Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration” was signed in Pyongyang between Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and DPRK’s leader Kim Jong-Il. At the conference the leader Kim Jong-Il officially confessed and apologized for abducting Japanese citizens in between the1970-1980s. After Kim Jong-Il’s confession there was a rise of extreme condemnation against DPRK in Japan. This issue has had serious effects on Korean residents in Japan. In fact it has become serious enough for the Japanese Human Rights Bureau (Ministry of Justice) to issue a warning regarding the “occurrence of harassment, intimidation, violent actions against Korean schools and/or Korean residents in Japan as a result of the report on the ‘abduction issue’ at the Japan-DPRK meeting”. Despite Japan’s ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1995, Japan has not legislated a national law banning discrimination. This disregard for racial discrimination, in effect has sanctioned the rampant hate speech demonstrations and the Kyoto Korean School Incident on December 2009. Ironically, the word “hate speech” was nominated for the grand prize in the buzzwords contest in 2013.
In April 2010 the Japanese government extended compulsory education to the high school level when it introduced the “Tuition Waiver and Tuition Support Fund Program for High School
Education” (hereafter, “Tuition Waiver Program”). The program exempts tuition fees for students in Japanese public high schools and provides equivalent funds for students in private high schools. The Tuition Waiver Program is a groundbreaking policy because it includes students in “regular schools” and also foreign school students in accredited “miscellaneous schools”. The Constitution of Japan maintains that Japanese “nationals” have the right to education, and the international convention deems that all people have the right to education.
Thus, the “Tuition Waiver Program” is the first Japanese government policy in accordance with international standards. However, the Democratic Party of Japan, the party which initiated
the Tuition Waiver Program deferred subsidizing the Korean school students due to diplomatic tensions between Japan and DPRK. In the meantime it included other foreign high school students such as Brazilian, Chinese and international schools. Soon afterwards in December 2012 the Liberal Democratic Party came into power and the second Abe administration was launched. The Abe administration immediately decided to exclude only the Korean schools from the program. In response to this discrimination, two Korean schools and 249 Korean students were forced to file lawsuits in five districts.
Although Japan’s central government has never subsidized foreign schools, prefectural and local governments have been subsidizing foreign schools since the 1970s. However, local governments such as Tokyo and Osaka have suspended subsidies only to Korean schools since 2010. This trend seems to be in accord with the central government policy, which prolonged the granting of Tuition Waiver Program subsidies.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Japanese acceptance of a “you can do anything to whatever and/or whoever is concerned with North Korea” way of thinking is applicable to
Koreans schools. Just how did the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination assess see the discrimination against Korean schools, when it mulled over a Japanese government August 2014 national report? How did civil movements in ROK assess the ethnic education in Korean schools in Japan? Further, how did the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination judge the Japanese central and local governments’ discrimination of the schools?
This website presents viewpoints on history, human rights, education, learning and ethnicity in providing clues for understanding the present situation for the Korean schools in Japan.
With this information viewers can judge for themselves.