• Kyodo

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The operator of a Korean senior high school in the city of Hiroshima appealed to a higher court Tuesday a ruling dismissing its claim for the publicly funded tuition support that covers most of the nation’s high schools.

The appeal comes just days after a court found for the first time that it is unlawful to deny the tuition subsidies to a Korean school. The previous case concerned the operator of a Korean senior high school in Osaka.

The appeal was filed with the Hiroshima High Court by the operator of the Hiroshima Korean School. On July 19, the Hiroshima District Court dismissed the school operator and other plaintiffs’ request to revoke an earlier decision by the government to deny Korean schools access to the subsidies.

The plaintiffs had sought ¥56 million in damages.

The Hiroshima case was the first among five similar lawsuits to receive a ruling. In the case, the court backed the government’s claim that pro-Pyongyang schools are under the influence of North Korea and Chongryon, the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, and there is therefore a risk that the subsidies may not be spent appropriately.

In the Osaka case, the Osaka District Court determined the government’s decision to exclude the Korean high school was based on political considerations and that the school should be entitled to tuition benefits to ensure equal opportunity in education.

“In the Hiroshima High Court, we are aiming for a ruling that is equivalent to the one handed down by the Osaka District Court or better,” said Kaori Hirata, head of a group of lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the Hiroshima case.

The government introduced a high school tuition waiver program in 2010 as a key policy of the then-ruling Democratic Party of Japan, the predecessor of the current Democratic Party.

Although the Korean school in Hiroshima applied to be included in the program in November that year, the government kept postponing a decision on the matter. In February 2013, the government, which at that time was being led by the Liberal Democratic Party, decided not to extend the subsidies to pro-Pyongyang schools.

Under the tuition support program, the central government provides subsidies to high schools via local governments to pay for students’ tuition. Under the current system, students from households on an annual income of less than ¥9.1 million are eligible. Public school students receive full tuition waivers, while private school students receive partial waivers.

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