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Japan’s school absenteeism up for first time in six years

Kyodo

Absenteeism for compulsory schools in Japan increased in fiscal 2013 for the first time in six years, the education ministry said Thursday, without specifying what factors were behind the rise.

In the year that ended in March, a total of 119,617 compulsory school students were absent from school for 30 days or longer for reasons other than health or economics, rising by some 7,000 from the previous year, it said.

The ministry plans to release estimated factors behind the increase in September after analyzing problematic student behavior specified in an annual basic school survey.

While the ministry said the deployment of school counselors and other measures have contributed to reducing school absenteeism, school teachers said students prone to absenteeism have increased.

The number reached a record 138,733 in fiscal 2001 before declining for four years. It rose again in fiscal 2006 and 2007 before decreasing for five years.

The number for fiscal 2013 included 95,442 junior high school students, up 3,996 from the previous year, amounting to 2.7 percent of total junior high school students in Japan.

Elementary school students accounted for 24,175, up 2,932, making for a record 0.4 percent of all such students.

The ministry also said the number of compulsory school students missing for one year or longer as of May came to 397, down 308 from a year earlier.

Since the number stood at 1,191 in 2011, local boards of education have enhanced cooperation with police, welfare and other authorities to establish the whereabouts of missing students.