• Kyodo News


Japan again spent the least on education in 2007 among the 28 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of the ratio of such state spending to gross domestic product, according to an OECD report.

The nation’s 2007 ratio, 3.3 percent, was the third-lowest, following 2003 and 2005. Japan was also the second-lowest in 2004 and 2006 in the annual OECD studies. For the latest ranking, comparable data were available among the 28 nations out of the OECD’s 32 members.

Since the 2007 result was compiled during a Liberal Democratic Party-led government, it does not reflect possible results of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s measures to beef up public education.

The DPJ, which took power last September, said in its annual policy platform for 2009, was issued separately from election campaign pledges, that it was aiming to raise the spending ratio to 5.0 percent or higher. It waived public high school tuition in April.

The latest OECD report showed that the average ratio of such public-spending-to-GDP among the 28 countries was 4.8 percent, with Iceland ranking highest at 7.0 percent, followed by Denmark’s 6.6 percent and Sweden’s 6.1 percent.

The second-lowest after Japan was Slovakia’s 3.4 percent and the third-lowest was Chile’s 3.7 percent.

In a press briefing, an OECD official said there is a possibility that Japan’s spending ratio may improve, but that it is unclear how far it could rise in the rankings as other countries have also increased their respective public spending.

At the elementary and junior high school levels, Japan’s spending-to-GDP ratio came to 2.5 percent — tied for second-lowest with the Czech Republic, while the ratio at the high school levels was 0.5 percent, also the second-lowest.

In terms of the ratio of private investments toward all education expenditures, however, Japan’s came to 33.3 percent, the fourth-largest after South Korea, Chile and the United States.

By educational level, Japan’s private spending on college education accounted for 67.5 percent, compared with an average 30.9 percent, while spending on kindergarten was 56.2 percent, compared with 20.3 percent.

The result highlighted that Japanese households had to spend more on education due to low public spending.

The OECD also said the number of students per class at Japanese junior high schools was 33.0, the second-largest number among 23 member nations.

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