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Homeschooling in Japan: An Interview with Hiro Inaba

February 4–8, 2013   |   Vol. 114, Programs 61–65

“There is favor toward homeschoolers in Japan, not only from the business society but also from senators, congressmen, professionals, both, actually, media people and so forth.”

Hiro Inaba, president of the Church and Home Education Association of Japan, joins Mike Smith this week on Home School Heartbeat to share about Japanese homeschooling.

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Homeschooling happens all over the world! This week on Homeschool Heartbeat, Hiro Inaba, president of the Church and Home Educators Association of Japan, joins host Mike Smith to talk about how his family got started homeschooling.

Mike Smith: This week my guest is Hiro Inaba, president of the Church and Home Education Association of Japan. Hiro, welcome to the program.

Hiro Inaba: Thank you so much; this is a great opportunity!

Mike: Hiro, can you tell us a little bit about your family and how you got started homeschooling?

Hiro: Wendy and I started homeschooling in the spring of 2000; in the year 1998 my wife Wendy had an interest for homeschooling and she encouraged me to do some research about it. I was the producer of a Japanese TV broadcasting program at the time, so I went to the CHEA California convention and made two programs about the homeschooling movement. We also found out that there was just a handful of families in Japan who were doing home education. Obviously they were under lots of pressure, so Wendy told me that we should have a channel to encourage them. That was the beginning of Chea Japan.

Mike: Well thank you, Hiro, for that information. We look forward to hearing more about homeschooling in Japan next time. And, until then, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Parents who began homeschooling met with a lot of suspicion in Japan, but it seems homeschooling has grown in popularity over the last decade. What is the current cultural and legal status of homeschooling in Japan, Hiro?

Hiro Inaba: Mike, if we ask the Japanese government about homeschooling, they will say that it is an illegal act. The Japanese constitution and the United States constitution are very similar. Freedom of basic human rights, freedom of education, parent’s rights, freedom of faith, freedom of study, and other articles of human rights issues support homeschooling. Chea Japan has informed the homeschooling families about the legal background and about the compulsive education law. A top class bureaucrat told me, “If parents decide to do homeschooling, the only thing we can do is send a letter to them that says that they are doing illegal things.” That means that if parents choose to continue homeschooling, the government is not able to do anything to stop them. So the legal situation of Japan is grave, but we are able to continue homeschooling based on the Constitution.

Mike: Well, Hiro, this is great news! And next time, we’ll learn how the Japanese business community is supporting homeschooling. And, until then, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: The Japanese business community has been very supportive of homeschooling. Why are these businessmen and women so willing to help homeschoolers, Hiro?

Hiro: There is favor toward homeschoolers in Japan, not only from the business society but also from senators, congressmen, professionals, media people. Japan has and is confronted with big problems regarding education. The education industry estimates that the number of students who only partially go to school is more than one million. That is a big problem in Japan! Most of the reason is not because of financial issues, but because of problems like apathy, depression, juvenile delinquency, dysfunctional families and so on. But the solution to all of those problems is not too difficult; we have the answer and that is the Bible.

The Bible tells how to teach your children. When I share about homeschooling, most of the staff people and educational committees or government workers say that they personally think that the homeschooling is ideal and fundamental thing for education and that they respect homeschooling.

Mike: Well, Hiro, that is very encouraging to hear, and I hope other business leaders around the world adopt the same appreciation for homeschooling. And, until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Hiro Inaba, president of the Church and Home Education Association of Japan, joins us again today, and what are some special things that Japanese homeschoolers study, Hiro, that may be different from what we do here in the states or other countries?

Hiro Inaba: Japan is a more group-oriented society than the United States, so to be isolated from the group or to do differently is a big fear. Continuing homeschooling is also very tough for the Japanese as the pressure from the outside gets stronger and more intimidating. The solution we have concluded is that we must emphasize our ultimate goal even more. What is the ultimate goal? We emphasize three things: number one, to save our children’s souls. Number two is to give the heart of Christ to our children—discipleship training. Our third goal is to share the good news. There’s always somebody who needs to listen to the good news from us, even if we are 12 years old, or 120 years old, we can pray over a friend or pass a tract to a stranger, we can wash dishes, or speak in front of thousands. Chea Japan and I have learned through the past 12 years to keep these strong and ultimate goals close to our hearts.

Mike: Hiro, thanks for sharing the truth with us today. And, until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: While all of us may have different needs, prayer is one thing everyone can use. What are some ways our listeners can pray for homeschoolers in Japan, Hiro?

Hiro Inaba: Please pray for the homeschooling movements and that they will become effective tools to foster spiritual movements in Japan. Please also pray for Chea Japan, so that we can reach and serve more and more Japanese people in the country. Also to help walk with the homeschooling families as they live on faith with Christ Jesus. Please pray for Chea Japan’s staff people and members. One of our homeschoolers recently lost their father by a traffic accident. Some of the homeschooling fathers of Chea Japan have cancer. Lastly, please pray for my family, especially for my wonderful wife Wendy. Like other homeschooling moms, she works very hard to raise our children and to support me. Thank you so much for your prayers and thank you, Mike.

Mike: Well, Hiro, thank you for who you are and what you’ve meant to homeschooling in Japan, and thank you for taking the time this week to share with us about that. And, Hiro, we hope that in the future we can have you back. And, until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Hiro Inaba:
Hiro Inaba founded the Church & Home Educators Association of Japan (Chea Japan) in 2000 and has worked diligently to bring together Christian leaders throughout Japan and the U.S. to work together to foster spiritual movements in Japan.

Hiro received his BA in Law from Waseda University in Tokyo and earned an MA in intercultural studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Burbank, with his wife, Wakiko, who has homeschooled their three children since 2000. Their eldest son, Makishi, is a student at Patrick Henry College.

As former director of the documentary division of NHK, the largest TV broadcasting network in Japan, Hiro is an international award-winning director/producer and recipient of the MovieGuide Award for Excellence in the Foreign Documentary Division.

Currently, Hiro serves as one of executive producers of a biblical epic film, Kingdom Come, and is VP of the production company of Kingdom Come, HWCA! LLC, in Burbank, CA.

Chea Japan has been holding conventions throughout the year and annual summer camps, as well as providing Christian curriculums from Bob Jones University and publishing parenting books.

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