Chongryon students as scapegoats

Tottori

Comments in the Dec. 29 Kyodo article “Pro-North (Korea) schools to lose tuition waiver” are biased. Contrary to the picture painted in the media, the Chongryon schools are far more accessible than we are led to believe. Most Chongryon schools hold open days and joint events with local Japanese schools to promote mutual understanding. An interview with Chongryon school personnel would have made this article more impartial.

The comment suggesting that government officials cannot examine the content of the schools’ curricula follows the lines of government rhetoric, and misleads. The “contents” of all school curricula are not an issue in the tuition waiver program if the schools meet the four requirements of curriculum, teacher qualifications, facilities and management.

I have also been informed by Chongryon school personnel that the Japanese government has not attempted to inspect the content of their curricula.

In 2010 the Japanese government’s policy provided tuition funding for Japanese high schools, including special and foreign schools. A total of 33 international schools were granted funding. Despite meeting all of the requirements, the 10 Chongryon schools were excluded and 1,800 Korean students were left out in the cold [while the education ministry's expert panel screened pro-Pyongyang schools based on education criteria].

In March 2010, the issue was reported to United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and acknowledged as an international issue, but despite international criticism, the Japanese government has refused to concede the severity of the issue. This is an uncompromising infringement of minority education entitlement. The refusal may also be interpreted as the Japanese government’s intention to force the closure of all Chongryon schools.

Politics and education are separate issues, children are being made scapegoats over the abduction issue.

The Chongryon schools continue to be portrayed as precarious and antagonistic institutions. We seem to want to overlook anything positive to do with the dedication of the real people who work and study within these schools.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

susan menadue-chun