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August 31, 2015

Swedish Family Homeschools in Japan

By Association of HomeSchoolers in Christ

The Kawanishis family

The Kawanishi family

In 2005 the Japanese education system changed drastically for home educated students. The entrance examination to university was revised and the new system clearly states that all graduates in Japan should have the opportunity to gain admittance to college or university. This new system is referred to as the “Konin” system, or translated, “Certificate for Students Achieving the Proficiency Level of Upper Secondary School Graduates.” It no longer stipulates that students must have graduated from a traditional school or have taken the national examination. This is very good news for every home educating family in Japan.

While this is indeed a positive development, I want to be clear that to date, Japan does not have clear legal support for home education. The law is still vague, without explicit reference to home education as legal or illegal. There is still a real social bias against “school refusal” and society in Japan currently fails to distinguish between home education based on parental decision and students simply refusing to go to school based on mental factors and emotional strain.

Here is an example of one family’s journey into homeschooling:

Mr. Jorgen Kawanishi is a Swedish missionary who arrived in Japan nearly two decades ago and married his wife Atsuko, originally from Japan. He serves with the Evangelical Swedish Church and their family have started a local church-planting ministry in two hours southwest of Tokyo in Shizuoka prefecture. Jorgen and Atsuko are blessed with a daughter, Michelle and a son, Lukas. Upon their children reaching school-age, they understood that Japanese public schools make a point to be inclusive and accepting of pupils with dual nationality. On the other hand, the family noticed the unfortunate current reality that students in public schools in Japan have a lot of disastrous incidents caused by an insidious problem of bullying.

When the Kawanishis approached the board of education about starting home education, the Association of HomeSchoolers in Christ (AHSIC) assisted them with suggestions for how to avoid unjustified involvement from the education bureaucracy. As a result, the Kawanishis are currently homeschooling their children—an interesting side note that their Swedish children are successfully being homeschooled in the Far East, even though Sweden as a country is hostile toward home education. Jorgen Kawanishi may be contacted at

Association of HomeSchoolers in Christ, is a homeschool support group in Japan.

 Other Resources

Learn more by visiting HSLDA’s Japan page.