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January 25, 2012

Hanging in Limbo

By Homeschool Support Association of Japan

The clear legal basis for homeschooling has not yet been decided in Japan. While the law is vague and homeschoolers have largely been left alone in the past, an increase in contact with child welfare authorities concerns families. However, the 2006 version of the Basic Education Law makes it clear that the responsibility of education falls to the family, and not the government. Here is a detailed excerpt from the law:

Basic Act on Education (Act No. 120 of December 22, 2006)

Education in the family
Article 10 (1): The parent and other protective persons have the first responsibility for a child's education and shall endeavor to teach them the habits necessary for their life, to promote the independance and to nurture the balanced development of their bodies and minds.

Article 10 (2): The national and local governments shall endeavor to take necessary measures supporting education in the family, by providing guardians with opportunities to learn, relevant information, and other means, while respecting family autonomy in education.

We interpret the above articles as highly supportive of homeschooling. In 2012 many discussions were held on the topic of school education, as Futoukou (not going to school) and Hikikomori (staying at home to protect self esteem) are increasing. In addition, the percentage of students in the elementary and middle schools on the autistic spectrum is 6.5%. Thus the number of children with such special needs is increasing. In many cases, these students and their parents pursue private study and homeschooling rather than study in the normal school atmosphere.

Prior to World War II, the Basic Education Act promoted tolerance for home education. Historically, many Japanese students studied at home because they worked in agricultural areas and the government permitted this situation.

Changes to the education law after the war changed the definition of compulsory education, whereby parental freedom was protected, to compulsory school attendance. This is pity.

Since the children of “Futoukou” and “Hikikomori,” as well as the number of children with autism is increasing, homeschooling is also rapidly increasing. We are supporting these homeschoolers and look forward to our annual meeting in June 2013.

The Homeschool Support Association (HOSA) was founded in 2000 and exists to support and defend homeschooling families in Japan.

 Other Resources

Learn more by visiting HSLDA’s Japan page.