According to a report on high school students, the number of students attending private high schools who gave up learning between April and September this year due to an economic reason is the 'lowest' since 1998 when the first survey was conducted. This is a success brought about by the recent government's policy of free-of-charge high school education. But there is an exception - Korean high schools. There is no reason, no ground of exclusion.
JAPAN SHOULD BE A COUNTRY WHICH JAPANESE PEOPLE ARE PROUD OF
The government of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) implemented a free-of-charge high school education policy in the fiscal 2010. It covers all high schools, vocational schools and high schools for foreign residents so that young people may not be stripped of opportunities to study solely due to an economic reason. The tuition fees are paid by the government, which is a historic system to be highly appreciated.
However, students who learn at Korean high schools are excluded. They are infringed of the right to study and their parents are forced to owe heavy burden. Minister of Education Tanaka Makiko told early October that it is time to make a political decision, but it is hardly possible at this moment to expect to have one. The ministry responds to the claims of students of Korean high schools and parents, saying that 'it is a pity to take time, but the ministry examines the situation carefully'. What does the ministry check at this moment after over two years of policy implementation? The free-of-charge education system is an issue to guarantee education to all. It must not be dealt with in the diplomatic and political context. The ministry's examination itself poses a question.
State's Obligation to Educate Youth
Korean schools are closely related with the history of Japan. Japan colonized Korea, which prevented Koreans from leading a life as Koreans. Children had not been given opportunities to learn own language. That is why Korean residents in Japan worked hard to establish schools of the language. These schools developed gradually to be schools for Korean residents in Japan.
Korean schools are a place where Koreans regain their language robbed of by the colonial power. This point is different from other schools for foreigners. For this reason it is the government of Japan that has the greatest responsibility for Korean schools. It has obligations to help and support these schools. But on the contrary, the successive governments have discriminated them, suppressing the developments.
Under these circumstances students cannot attend school today dressed in the national costume, chima and jeogori. Girls in the traditional school uniform are attacked in the street. That is a sad reality of current society of Japan. Japanese still retain deep discriminative feeling to Koreans and students in traditional dress are attacked and injured if a certain event has taken place. The girls are obliged to dress in the secondary school uniform these days when attending school.
Simultaneously not a few Japanese fight against the unfair discriminatory practices against Koreans. They get united with Korean students and parents to demand the government to cover Korean schools into the free-of-charge policy. For over three months from September to mid-December in total 270 thousand petition signatures have been collected.
A Mirror to Reflect Japanese
One of the 2nd grade students who attends Korean High School in Tokyo said: 'I have seen several compatriot students who were obliged to go to Japanese high schools for an economic reason as the Japanese government excludes our high schools from the policy. Every time I felt heartbroken. Why cannot we live as Koreans in Japan?' He earnestly hoped the government of Japan to implement the free-of-charge policy for Korean high schools.
Some say that a Korean school is a mirror that reflects attitudes of Japanese. Japanese people must build up a society that they are proud of so that the mirror may not get dim.
December 18, 2012