TOKYO: The head of the Korean School Principals Association is demanding that the education ministry retract its notice that local governments be cautious about providing subsidies to schools that serve the Korean community.
“We strongly condemn and protest with anger such a discriminatory act by the education ministry against students in Korean schools,” Shin Gil-ung, who is also the principal of Tokyo Korean High School, said Tuesday at a news conference in Tokyo at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.
He said the ministry is interfering with local governments by suggesting they exclude Korean schools from the high school tuition support fund.
Kim Wooki, a spokeswoman for the Human Rights Association for Korean Residents in Japan, as well as students from the school and a parent also participated in the news conference.
Shin said the notice was issued after demand grew within the Liberal Democratic Party that subsidies to Korean schools be cut off in response to North Korea’s abductions of Japanese and its recent nuclear weapons tests and missile launches.
Education minister Hiroshi Hase issued the guideline March 29, saying local governments should be more cautious about providing subsidies to Korean schools.
He said the Korean schools have strong ties with North Korea and that the pro-Pyongyang group Chongryon, also known as the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, is influencing their education and human resources.
Hase said local governments should consider three points before deciding to provide the subsidies: whether the subsidies are in the public interest and aid education; whether the subsidies are used for their stated purpose; and whether local residents have sufficient information about the schools.
A protest reportedly took place near the Diet on Friday in which around 110 people, including parents of students attending Korean schools, demanded that the notice be withdrawn.
“Diplomatic and security issues have nothing to do with the Korean schools. In spite of this, the education ministry viewed the relationship between (North Korea) and Korean schools as being problematic, and issued an extraordinary notice calling attention to the subsidies, although they should be decided by the local governments,” Shin said.
Hyong Su-hyang, a senior at Tokyo Korean High School, expressed fear and frustration over the issue.
Since the system for high school grants was launched in 2010, only Korean schools have been excluded, Hyong said.
“Through those years, our predecessors had to graduate in tears and frustration that they were not given the right to education,” she said. “I am honestly shocked that now, the Japanese government began interfering with subsidies provided by local governments. We will continue to protest for a better environment for future students.”