While the cost of sending a child to a public school in Japan is virtually free, one of the largest existing costs is something for which public education in the country is quite well known: school lunch.
The average per-child cost of a school meal in 2022 was around ¥49,000 per year for elementary school students and over ¥56,000 per year for junior high school students, according to the education ministry. While the cost for one child might be manageable for a family, the cost of multiple children can add up.
In recent months, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who has made improving the nation's birthrate a political priority, is considering universal free lunches as a measure to lessen the financial burden of child-rearing in Japan. The head of the country's newly formed children’s agency has also said it is necessary to continue discussions on the effort.