Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Re: Tips for Finding an International School (Winter 2006): some new legislation FYI

I refer to some comments made in your online Japan Inc magazine regarding new legislation for children of foreign nationals in the Japanese compulsory school system (apparently the legislation refers to children of foreign residents who have worked in Japan for 10 years or more, but will later be expanded to include other foreign residents–the legislation is said to better encourage integration for children and ensure they have access to education).

I dug up some interesting background on this legislation. In 2001, the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Discrimination gave its concluding remarks about Japan, and they had this to say about the school system for foreigners:

With regard to children of foreign nationality residing in Japan, the Committee notes that elementary and lower secondary education is not compulsory. It further notes the position of the State party that "since the purpose of the primary education in Japan is to educate the Japanese people to be members of the community, it is not appropriate to force foreign children to receive that education". The Committee concurs with the proposition that force is completely inappropriate to secure the objective of integration. However, with reference to articles 3 and 5 (e) (v), the Committee is concerned that different standards of treatment in this respect may lead to racial segregation and the unequal enjoyment of the rights to education, training and employment. It is recommended that the State party ensure that the rights contained in article 5(e) are guaranteed without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin.

So, push came to shove!! The question begs, are there really that many foreign children not in school? Will the legislation cover those children who are in International schools? I presume this legislation is for children who have a command of Japanese, as it is often reported that older children who cannot speak Japanese well are often turned away from Japanese public schools.

I think it’s great that foreign children will be getting fair treatment in the Japanese school system under these new rules. Just beware of the JPY100,000 fine if you fail to enrol your child!


Sam Barry, Parent/Resident, Tokyo

Dear Editor,

I have an impending job move to Japan later this year for an initial period of three years, which maybe extended to five. I will be in Tokyo at the end of June (with my family) looking for accommodation. A Japanese colleague suggested that, instead of renting a property like most foreign workers, with the current Japanese housing climate and interest rates on offer, that I might be better off buying a property instead. I would be most grateful for any information or guidelines that may assist my dilemma?

Kind regards,

Joe Mercer, New Jersey, USA

Editor's response: Please see Chris Cleary's article on Buying Residential Property in Japan (page 28).

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