ISSUES ALERT

a division of Home School Legal Defense Association
May 1, 1997

Japanese Home Schoolers Need Your Help!

Japanese public schools are known throughout the world for their outstanding students. However, academic excellence in Japan has not come without a heavy price. Japanese students are routinely harassed by bullies and teachers. Several students have been beaten to death by their teachers, and the suicide rate among young Japanese is staggering. More and more students are dropping out of school (80,000 at the last count), but a few are turning to home schooling as an answer to the abuses in the educational system.

Unfortunately, home schooling is illegal in Japan. Home schoolers must operate as private schools in order to avoid legal hassles. However, the govern-ment does not recognize these schools and, accord-ingly, taxes them as ordinary businesses. Home schoolers are referred to as toko kyohi, or “school refusers.” The Ministry of Health and Welfare has introduced a bill which would open the fifty-seven Japanese reform schools to school refusers. Although the bill says children shall not be sent to these reform schools for the unruly without parental consent, there is a legal loophole which would allow authorities to “determine” if the quality of parental care is “rapidly deteriorating.” Once this is established, the school officials would be able to place a child in a reform school without parental approval. The parents’ right to direct the education of their children is subject to the arbitrary whims of public school officials.

It is believed there are 1,000 home schooling families in Japan, and this number grows every year. The Japanese culture is very group-oriented, and in order for home school-ing to be widely accepted, it must have the approval of the government. In some cases, more persecution comes against home schoolers from the population at large than from government officials. Insults are regularly hurled at home schoolers by total strangers.

Action

Letters supporting Japanese home schoolers need to be sent immediately to the Japanese Embassy in Washington. In the past, political pressure from home schoolers in the United States was very effective in getting home school-ing recognized in South Africa. One home school leader in South Africa remarked “The only reason I can find for the change of tune [in the South African government] is the international pressure that has been brought to bear on them on the initiative of HSLDA.”

The Japanese government needs to hear from American home schoolers! Please write the Japanese Embassy, encouraging them to support home school-ing and introduce legislation recognizing the right of Japanese parents to direct the education of their children. In particular, share real-life benefits and successes of your home school.

Ambassador Kunihiko Saito

Japanese Embassy

2520 Massachusetts Ave. NW

Washington, D.C. 20008

This is a great opportunity not only to help our Christian brothers and sisters in Japan, but to teach your children about geography, the history and culture of Japan, and the freedoms we enjoy in the United States—and the need to remain vigilant to protect those liberties.