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The government plans to treat international schools like private domestic schools starting in April and give preferential tax treatment to donors to such schools, government officials said Saturday.

The education ministry and the Finance Ministry have agreed to recognize international schools as special public-service promotion corporations, which include corporations that run private Japanese general-education and vocational schools, the officials said.

The move is expected to meet more criticism from the Korean, Chinese and other ethnic communities in Japan, whose schools will not be recognized. Heads of many of these schools have protested against another recent government scheme considered to be exclusionary.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology decided Thursday to allow graduates of 16 international schools in Japan that have been accredited by Western educational groups to take national university exams, enabling them to bypass the “daiken” college pre-admission test.

Being listed as a special public-service promotion corporation makes it easier for the schools to receive donations due to the reduced tax burdens on individuals and businesses that contribute.

This could lead to reductions in the expensive tuition fees at international schools, which can run to well over 1 million yen annually, according to the officials.

The two ministries will discuss the criteria for adding the schools to the list of special corporations and publicize a notice of revisions in pertinent tax-related enforcement ordinances in official gazettes at the end of this month, the officials said.

Some officials have proposed that the same criteria for waiving daiken tests be applied — being accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Association of Christian Schools International of the United States or the European Council for International Schools of Britain.

The education ministry had asked the Finance Ministry to facilitate preferential tax treatment for donors to international schools from fiscal 2003, which begins in April, due to strong calls to that effect from business circles and some Diet members.

Businesses donating to special public-service promotion corporations can declare up to double the normal limit for expenses, while individual donors can deduct almost all of their donations from taxable income for amounts of up to 25 percent of their income.

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