The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Article 13

1. Right to Education

(1)Primary and lower secondary education
In Japan primary and lower secondary education is compulsory. Under Article 26 of the Constitution, Article 4 of the Fundamental Law of Education, and Articles 6, 22, and 39 of the School Education Law, the first nine years of general education (six years of primary and three years of lower secondary education) are compulsory. Compulsory education provided by national and public schools is provided free of charge.
In order to maintain a national education level, the School Education Law stipulates goals for each stage of education. In addition, Japan sets the standards for education at elementary and junior high schools (School Education Law Execution Regulations and Study Instruction Manual). Standard annual lesson hours for each subject for elementary and junior high schools are determined by the School Education Law Execution Regulations.
Textbooks used for compulsory education at private schools as well as at national and public schools are provided free of charge by the national government (Law Concerning Free Textbooks in Compulsory Education Schools).
Municipal authorities (cities, towns and villages) provide those who have difficulty continuing their compulsory education because of their financial situation with assistance necessary to cover such expenses for stationery, commuting, school excursion,school lunch, etc. The national government subsidizes this assistance, and by doing so,strives to secure school attendance of all children and smooth implementation of compulsory education.
In order to secure the necessary number of teachers and other personnel for public compulsory education schools throughout the nation, and to eliminate any imbalance in salary levels and numbers of teachers and other personnel among prefectures, the national government has set legal standards for class sizes and staffing levels of teachers and other personnel in public compulsory education, and pays half of the salary expenses of school employees for public compulsory schools in principle to improve equal opportunity for education and to maintain the education level nationwide.
As a result, those who receive primary and lower secondary education represent 99.98% of the applicable age group (as of May 1997).
Furthermore, children of foreign residents in Japan have the opportunity to receive primary and lower secondary education free of charge in national and public schools. As of May 1997, the number of foreign students attending elementary and junior high schools throughout Japan was 76,260, 73,607 of them receiving education at public schools.
When the children of foreign residents in Japan receive a Japanese school education, it is important to provide substantial Japanese language education. According to a survey conducted in September 1997, the number of foreign students who needed Japanese language training at public elementary, junior high and high schools in Japan was 17,296. Enhanced measures such as special Japanese lessons have been provided for these students. The learning of mother tongues for foreign students is not authorized as a required subject at primary and lower secondary schools; however, it can be provided as an extra-curricular activity, and this has taken place in some schools.
(2)Higher secondary education
It is, in general, possible for all people to receive higher secondary education (including technical and vocational education) in Japan.
Under the School Education Law, all students who have graduated from a lower secondary or an equivalent school, or whose academic achievement is recognized as being equivalent or higher in accordance with the criteria laid down by the relevant authorities, are qualified to be admitted to upper secondary schools, without discrimination of any kind based on sex, race, or nationality, etc. As many as 96.8% of lower secondary school graduates entered upper secondary schools in 1997. The standards for higher secondary education are determined by the government in the same way as they are for primary and lower secondary schools.
The content of education varies in order to accommodate the diversified capabilities, aptitudes, interests, and the future career paths of individual students. Some higher secondary schools provide middle level technical and vocational education. In addition, night schools and correspondence courses are offered for working people regardless of their age.
Refer to 2 below concerning introduction of free higher secondary education.
(3)Higher Education
The opportunity to receive higher education is provided equally to all people in Japan. Under the School Education Law, those who have graduated from high school, or who have completed twelve years of school education in a regular curriculum, or those students who are recognized as being equivalent or higher in academic achievement, in accordance with the criteria laid down by the competent authorities, are qualified to enter institutions of higher education, without discrimination of any kind based on sex, race, nationality, etc.
Japan established the University of the Air in 1983 with a view to providing opportunities for people to receive higher level education through the introduction of a new type of university education system making effective use of broadcasting. In this way,higher education which uses diversified media forms, mainly television and radio, has been implemented.
Furthermore, the opportunity to receive education is provided to all people through periodical extension lectures open to the public by universities and colleges.
For those who have the capability but have difficulty in attending school because of their financial situations, the Japan Scholarship Foundation awards grants and loans in accordance with the provisions of the Japan Scholarship Foundation Law. Local governments and non-profit organizations for the benefit of the public also engage in scholarship activities. In addition, national, public, and private universities offer a reduction of school tuition for such students, depending on their financial situation.
Refer to Section 2 below concerning introduction of free higher education.
(4)Basic education
No special measures are needed in the area of basic education since all but a very small number of infirm people who are unable to go to ordinary schools receive a basic education. When students who have not completed the regular curriculum wish to enter a higher level school, the opportunity is guaranteed through an academic recognition examination system.
Although there are no figures showing the rate of illiteracy in Japan, this rate is considered to be extremely low.

2. The Introduction of Free Higher Secondary Education and Higher Education

In Japan, a high percentage of students attend private schools for their secondary and higher education. Students of public schools are required to pay a reasonable share from the point of view of equalizing the payment burden. The introduction of free education, including the private school system, is an issue related to the fundamental principles of the private school system. Therefore, Japan has reserved the right not to be bound by the provision, "in particular by the progressive introduction of free education" as stipulated in Article 13, Paragraph 2 (b) and (c) of the Covenant.

However, in order to ensure the opportunity to receive education, the Japan Scholarship Foundation and local governments provide scholarships and take measures to reduce school tuition for students having difficulties in receiving education because of financial reasons.

Of the total national and local expenditures, 16.55% were spent for education in 1995.

3. Treatment of Teaching Staff

Under the general recognition that good education in school ultimately depends upon the character and ability of the individual teacher, the Law Concerning Special Measures for the Securing of Capable Educational Personnel in Compulsory Education Schools for the Maintenance and Enhancement of School Education Standards was enacted in 1974 to attract and keep capable teachers. This law provides the necessary measures to ensure that teachers of compulsory education schools are better paid than other public employees. Based on this law, planned improvements were implemented between 1974 and 1979, and other necessary improvements have continued to be made.

The Law for the Promotion of Education in Isolated Areas requires that local governments take the necessary measures to promote education in those areas by improving the situation of teachers working in isolated areas, such as in mountain villages and on remote islands where transportation, and natural, economic, and cultural conditions are insufficient. The national government subsidizes a portion of the cost necessary for these measures.

4. Private Schools

The School Education Law mentions the establishment of private universities. Private schools account for 73.7% of four-year universities in Japan (As of 1994). Private schools are established by the school juridical person, and the establishment of a school juridical person and a university requires the permission of the Minister of Education.As mentioned in 1. above, all people who graduate from private or public high schools are qualified to enter an institution of higher education without any discrimination based on sex, race, nationality, etc. For those with the ability but who have difficulty in attending school because of financial reasons, scholarships are granted through the Japan Scholarship Foundation, local governments, and non-profit organizations for the benefit of the public. Private universities also offer a reduction in school tuition, depending on the financial situation of the student. Furthermore, the national government has subsidized the expense of private universities (including junior colleges) since 1970, which controls tuition fee increases and contributes to an improved level of academic standards.

5. International Cooperation in Education Field

Promoting international cooperation in the field of education is very important for the improvement of the education and research level in both Japan and foreign countries, as well as for creating a spirit of international understanding and cooperation and for contributing to human development in foreign countries.

Japan actively promotes the acceptance of foreign students at higher educational institutions in Japan to further develop cooperation in the education field and to contribute to the development of human resources in developing countries. In addition, assistance is provided through such means as cooperation with UNESCO projects, loan aid mainly for infrastructure, and dispatching of university professors, acceptance of foreign researchers,and training for female education administration officers as a part of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and the Japan Foundation projects.

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