On March 31 about 6,000 people attended a meeting in Tokyo to demand that Korean high schools remain eligible for free tuition. In February, the Abe Cabinet revised the law to exclude ethnic Korean schools, chosen gakko, from the free-tuition provision for students, enacted in April 2010. Certain municipalities have already begun to cut off subsides for ethnic Korean schools. The nuclear issue with North Korea and the past abductions of Japanese citizens are cited as the pretext.
All children are guaranteed the right to learn. Japan has ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has expressed concern about the exclusion.
Children at chosen gakko always become the targets of punishment despite the irrelevance of diplomatic disputes. According to Chong Yong Hwan, a lecturer at Meiji Gakuin University: "Japan regards chosen gakko as a secret society. It indicates the level at which Japan's government has grasped the meaning of education. Even Japanese schools are kept under the surveillance of authorities who impose curricula in Tokyo's favor."
University students who participated in an excavation of the remains of Korean forced laborers confessed that they had learned little about the history of Korean residents in Japan and that they couldn't help getting a bad impression due to the Japanese media.
Japan's misunderstanding of the essential nature of education and manipulation by its media only aggravate the situation.
Children cannot choose their birthplaces. Do not forget that a number of their ancestors were taken to Japan against their will during the colonial period. To accuse the chosen gakko without respect for children's rights or a reflection on history is shameful. Such neglect holds Japan up as a pseudo-democracy.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.