National / Crime & Legal

Osaka court rejects suit over halt in subsidies to pro-Chongryon schools

Kyodo

A district court rejected Thursday a lawsuit filed by the operator of 10 Korean schools in Osaka Prefecture seeking nullification of a decision by local authorities not to pay subsidies.

Based on a 2010 proposal from then-Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto, the schools were told to remove portraits of late North Korean leaders and sever ties with the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) as part of a four-point requirement to receive the subsidies. They also had to follow Japan’s education curriculum guidelines and release financial statements.

They did not meet the requirements and both the Osaka Prefectural and Municipal governments, which introduced the criteria, halted the subsidies in fiscal 2011. The school operator plans to appeal the Osaka District Court ruling.

Presiding Judge Akira Yamada said related laws authorize government offices to offer subsidies, but noted that does not mean the schools have a legal right to receive the funds.

During the trial, the school operator argued that the requirements were “inappropriate political interference into education.” But Yamada denied that the measures were meant to crack down on the schools.

Yamada further said that as long as the schools failed to meet the requirements, the withholding of the subsidies is unavoidable, although he recognized that concerns remain over the financial burden the students and parents have to shoulder due to the lack of funds.

According to the court and other sources, the prefectural and city governments had subsidized the schools from fiscal 1974 and from 1987, respectively.

But the local governments decided to stop the payments in fiscal 2011 because the schools did not meet the four requirements, which also included that education be conducted in line with Japan’s curriculum guidelines and that the schools disclose their financial statements.

“I’m trembling with anger. We’ll continue to fight until the day of victory,” Hyon Yong So, an official of the school operator, said at a press conference.

Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui and Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura welcomed the ruling.

“It’s an extremely appropriate ruling. We don’t plan to provide subsidies and there’s no change in that,” Yoshimura said.

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