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Human Rights Council

16 session

Item 5

15 March 2011

Korean Minorities in Japan

Statement by Mr. Akira MAEDA

Professor of Tokyo Zokei University

on behalf of the

Japanese WorkersCommittee for Human Rights (JWCHR)

Geneva, 15 March 2011

Mr. President

I thank to you and all persons here for your support, sympathy and solidarity to Japanese people suffering from the earthquake and the following tsunami—without electricity, food and drinking water.

We have reported the situation of minorities in Japan to former Commission on Human Rights and Human Rights Council for more than 10 years. Unfortunately the situation of minorities in Japan, in short, has grown worse for 10 years. We welcome the report and presentation of Forum on Minorities Issue by Ms. Gay McDougal. In this regard, we would like to introduce you the new violation of human rights of minorities by Japanese Government.

Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended in its concluding observations (CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6) in 11 March 2010 to the Japanese government to stop the discriminatory policy against Korean Minorities in Japan. Committee on Right of Child followed it in 20 June 2010 (CRC/C/JPN/CO/3).

Nevertheless, Government of Japan has continued to exclude only Korean minorities from “Free High School Tuition Bill,” whose purpose is to alleviate the financial burdens of high school education of household. Surprisingly the discriminatory treatment was ordered directly by Prime Minister, Mr. Kan himself. It can be said that this is absolute racial discrimination and political violence

Korean schools are facing the financial difficulty under the discriminative policy of Japanese government such as non-governmental aid or non-adaptation of exemption of taxation on donation to school. On such problem, Human Rights Committee made recommendation in the past (for example para 31, CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5.) .The financial burden of Korean minorities is five times than that of Japanese.

In addition, Korean minorities are subjected to attack by Japanese civilian as often as news of DPR Korea is excessively reported by Japanese mass media. Korean minorities cannot go out wearing their own traditional wear because of fear of attacking. Although hate crimes has increased for dacade, the government has taken no measures to prevent hate crimes. How can this crazy situation be allowed in Japan?

The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 24, 2010

EDITORIAL: Free school education

There is no reason to exclude Korean Students.

Just before Diet deliberations begin on a bill to make high school education tuition-free, Hiroshi Nakai, state minister in charge of the abduction issue, asked education minister Tatsuo Kawabata to exclude chosen gakko schools for Korean children in Japan.

North Korea has been developing nuclear arms and missiles, defying international criticism and sanctions. The country has also refused to cooperate with Japan in resolving the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents.

The reason behind Nakai's request appears to be that chosen gakko are under the influence of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), which supports North Korea.

Japan has good reason to take a tough stance toward North Korea and exert the necessary diplomatic pressure. But should education for Korean children in Japan be considered from the same point of view?

Of chosen gakko around the country, 10 are kokyu gakko, the equivalent of high schools. Nearly 2,000 children attend these schools.

Chosen gakko originated in schools that Koreans established to reinstate the use of their native language after the end of World War II.

There was a period when these schools conducted strict ideological education after they came under Pyongyang's influence through Chongryon, founded in 1955.

The content of education, however, has shifted dramatically through generational changes among Korean residents.

Most of the classes are given in Korean. But the curriculum is largely in line with the education ministry's guidelines for Japanese schools, except for some courses, such as the one on Korean history.

A growing number of Koreans send their children to chosen gakko to cherish their own language and culture, even though they do not support the North Korean regime.

There used to be portraits of Kim Il Sung, North Korea's founder, and Kim Jong Il, his son and the current leader, in all chosen gakko classrooms.

In response to requests from parents, however, the portraits have been removed from schools that correspond to elementary and junior high schools.

Such a trend is expected to only grow stronger.

Chosen gakko are all financially strained. The central government provides no financial aid, although the schools receive local government subsidies.

Parents bear a heavy financial burden as they are asked to make donations on top of the annual tuition of about 400,000 yen ($4,400).

With the free tuition bill, the government aims to create a society in which all high school students can concentrate on studies without worrying about financing.

The bill, approved by the Cabinet last month, covers not only public and private high schools and technical colleges but also various institutions with comparable high school curriculums.

It was assumed that the latter category would include schools for Brazilians, Chinese and Koreans.

Guaranteeing all children the right to learn, including those with foreign citizenship, is a basic principle of the Democratic Party of Japan's education policy. Excluding chosen gakko students, who are members of Japanese society, from the initiative would go against the principle.

On Tuesday, Kawabata said neither diplomatic considerations nor the content of education would be a factor in deciding on eligibility for the program.

We suggest that Nakai visit a chosen gakko with Kawabata.

He would find that students are no different from their counterparts at Japanese schools. They aspire to go on to university, take part in sports and worry about their future.