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Students pose for a photo after the graduation ceremony at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, 24 March 2022 (Photo: Reuters/Takuya Matsumoto).

Author: Sae Shimauchi, Tokyo Metropolitan University

In Japan, funding for education is largely considered the responsibility of the family. This viewpoint was established by the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education during the Abe administration. But the problems facing Japanese society have become too large to leave higher education to the pocketbooks of families.

The social burden of education costs is an urgent issue that must be resolved in order to halt Japan’s falling birth rate and pursue economic development. According to a survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the high cost of education is the most frequently cited reason for families choosing not to have their desired number of children.

The lifetime employment system, which supported economic development during Japan’s high-growth period in the 20th century, has become a privilege granted to a limited number of elite workers. Part-time employment levels are on the rise and one in three new graduates are leaving the workforce within three years. Scholarships have become widely needed not only for low-income groups, such as tax-exempt households, but for middle-income groups as well.

Article 26 of the Japanese Constitution stipulates that all people have the right to receive an equal education correspondent to their ability. The Fundamental Law of Education also stipulates that national and local governments must take measures to provide financial assistance to those who face economic barriers to receiving an education.

But Japan reserved the right not to be bound by the provisions in Article 13(2)(c) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights regarding equal access to education and the progressive introduction of free education. Though the Japanese government …continue reading