• Kyodo

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Japan’s first private school run by a stock company was inaugurated Saturday in Mitsu, Okayama Prefecture.

Asahijuku Junior High School held an admission ceremony for the first batch of 50 first-year students.

The school was founded by Asahigakuen, a legally incorporated educational institution based in the city of Okayama.

Last year, the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi gave consent to Mitsu and two other municipalities to set up schools run by stock companies.

The authorization reflects the Koizumi government’s deregulatory drive to rev up slowing regional economies.

The Mitsu government invited Asahigakuen to run a school using an obsolete elementary school building whose operations had ceased due to the severe depopulation of the rural district, town officials said.

The new school will provide students with a range of innovative lessons and courses, including arts and music classes conducted in English.

The school’s curriculum will not be controlled by guidelines set by the education ministry, they said.

The school will refund all tuition fees if students the school designates as capable of enrolling in a high school of their choosing fail entrance exams for that school.

The system is based on the idea that the school has the responsibility to provide instruction sufficient to produce students able to pass such entrance exams.

“We will have to brace for losses in the first three years,” Asahigakuen chief Mitsuji Toriumi told reporters. “We would like to provide education so that students may grow up to be internationally competent.”

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