Since returning to power late last year, the Liberal Democratic Party has said it will dismantle some of the social programs the Democratic Party of Japan implemented during its short reign.

Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura announced at the end of January that he will introduce a new shogakkin system for high school and university students from low-income families. Shogakkin is usually translated as “scholarship,” but students in Japan who receive them have to pay them back. The new system will distribute grants, but its main purpose is to upend the April 2010 DPJ law that made all public high schools tuition-free, since the scholarship scheme is tied to a proposed income-based graduated tuition program. Practically everyone in Japan goes to high school but it is not compulsory, so the LDP doesn’t think the government should have to pay for it. Still, the tuition waiver is popular, so if the LDP is going to weaken it the government has to compensate somehow, otherwise it will look as if it is discriminating against a certain class of children for the sake of cutting the budget.

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