Statement Calling for Application of Tuition-free Measures to Preschool/Daycare Facilities belonging to Foreign National Schools
The Child and Childcare Support Benefits System (hereinafter the “Tuition-free System”) came into effect on October 1 this year in accordance with the amended Child and Childcare Support Act (hereinafter the “Amended Support Act”).
The basic principle of this Tuition-free System is to “provide support to ensure the growth and well-being of all children” (Article 2, paragraph 2 of the Amended Support Act).
In spite of this, in the statutory system, the children who attend preschool/daycare facilities belonging to foreign national schools (e.g. Brazilian schools and North Korean schools) that fall into the category of Miscellaneous Category Schools (Article 134, paragraph 1 of the School Education Act), are ineligible for the support benefits (Tuition-free System).
The ineligibility which these children are subject to has been justified for the reason that “[Miscellaneous Category Schools] are providing wildly diverse education without established standards relating to their distinctive schooling including preschool education. Additionally, they are not included in Non-registered Childcare Facilities as defined in the Child Welfare Act”, hence the preschool/daycare facilities belonging to the Miscellaneous Category Schools are not deemed “facilities where the quality of preschool education provided is properly guaranteed by law”. (Policy toward Enacting the Tuition-free System for the Preschool/Higher Education. Relevant Ministers’ Agreement, December 28, 2018)
Nevertheless, even the Non-registered Childcare Facilities —regarding which concerns had been addressed about ensuring the quality of their education because of the great diversity in the way they were operated—became eligible for the Tuition-free System in conformity to the Amended Support Act. Therefore, it is questionable that the diversity in education can be reasonable grounds for rejecting eligibility for the Tuition-free System.
In the first place, in light of the basic principles of the Amended Support Act, i.e. to “provide support for the growth and well-being of all children”, children who attend the preschool/daycare facilities of the foreign national schools should also be entitled to receive the benefits offered by the Tuition-free System, since that is the purport for which the Amended Support Act is intended. Excluding the children attending the preschool/daycare facilities of foreign national schools on the grounds that the foreign national schools are classified as Miscellaneous Category Schools, may fall under “discriminatory handling”, which is prohibited under Article 14 of the Constitution of Japan, Article 2, paragraph 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 2, paragraph 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Therefore, although what should ultimately be implemented is to make a further amendment of the Amended Support Act so that these children can be eligible for the Tuition-free System, in the interim, until such amendment is actually made, necessary alternative measures need to be taken promptly to ensure that children who attend preschool/daycare facilities belonging to foreign national schools can receive the same benefits as those offered to the children who attend other institutions that are qualified for the Tuition-free System.
In this connection, at the House of Representatives’ Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Committee meeting held on November 27 this year, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology stated that they would be reviewing through the end of the year how the Government and the municipalities could cooperate to help support the “so-called quasi-preschools” including the Miscellaneous Category Schools, to which the Tuition-free System does not apply, because these facilities were, through various historical developments indigenous to each distinct region, conceived to be playing a vital role even today by meeting the needs of the local community and parents.
Thus, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations calls on the Government and the municipalities where the preschool/daycare facilities belonging to foreign national schools are sited, to include these facilities, as an interim measure, to the scope of the tuition-free support that are discussed in the ongoing examination.
December 20, 2019
Japan Federation of Bar Associations