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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 September 17 - 23  > Japan’s low education budget places financial burdens on students
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2014 September 17 - 23 [WELFARE]

Japan’s low education budget places financial burdens on students

September 17, 2014
Akahata editorial (excerpt)

A recent survey conducted by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) showed that Japan’s ratio of government spending on education to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was the lowest among 32 member nations. Japan ranked at the bottom for five consecutive years. Poor public expenditure on education is imposing heavy economic burdens on students and their families.

According to the survey, Japan’s public spending for education amounted to only 3.8% of its GDP, far below than the OECD average (5.6%).

On the other hand, 30% of education expenditure in Japan was paid by individuals, while the OECD average was 16%. Regarding spending for higher education, the percentages were 66% and 31% respectively.

In Japan, public university students are required to pay 820,000 yen in their first year and the payment for private university students is 1,310,000 yen. Many students have no choice but to depend on student loans to cover tuition and living expenses. They have to spend much of their time working part-time while at university and then pay back a debt of 6-7 million yen after graduation.

Regarding education at the primary and secondary school levels, the Abe government is reluctant to increase public spending on education as shown in various policies implemented, such as the abolition of the free education program for public high schools, the introduction of an income limit for tuition subsidies for households, and a decrease in the number of teachers.

The Japanese government last year adopted the second basic plan for the promotion of education. The Central Council for Education, an advisory panel to the education minister, compiled a draft of the plan which included a proposal that public spending for education be raised to the OECD average level. The Abe government, however, omitted the proposal from the finalized plan in defiance of the international trend.

The Japanese government ratified an article of the International Covenants on Human Rights which calls for the gradual elimination of tuition for higher education. The government should reinstate the tuition-free program for high school students and start working for free education for all students.

Past related articles
> Poor gov’t support drives young people away from entering university [May 11, 2014]
> Gov’t accepts international covenant on free higher education [September 14, 2012]
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