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Japan lays groundwork for free education policy to help economy


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Japan is laying the groundwork for a free education program for some households that will cover a student’s costs from preschool to college to ensure the country maintains a highly-skilled workforce.

Some? How about all, There is no reason why it can't be done!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

It's funny that free education was one of the old "Minshuto's" main policies and they were roundly criticized for it. It is too expensive, etc. Now here we are a few years removed from their kick at the can and surprise surprise, Mr. Abe has now embraced the idea of free education. I wonder if it has anything to do with a small scandal going on in Osaka and Tokyo at the same time?

15 ( +17 / -2 )

I'm for free education for everyone, even if they raise taxes by 100%, I don't want my kids to live in a society of stupids.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

Abe shifted his economic agenda last year to focus on raising the minimum wage, curbing long working hours and improving access to child care.

And has achieved next to nothing thus far...

13 ( +14 / -1 )

One survey shows Japanese people pay more out of pocket expenses for their kids education than any other OECD nation. It's a scandal and surely needs to be fixed.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I'm for free education for everyone, even if they raise taxes by 100%

What's the quality of education tho?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

All students who have graduated junior high should have the right to attend a prefecture high school.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Japan actually has a lot of ladies who are highly educated, intelligent, hard working, and capable. But they are unmotivated, and so look for a nice guy to take care of them, or how to have a good life. When's the last time you had a female doctor or dentist? His assistants are female and make a fifth of his salary. In the city office the men are in the back thinking and the ladies are up front dealing with customers. When's the last time you even saw a cook that wasn't male as the women were waiters? When's the last time you saw a woman driving a train and a guy in the back making announcements? Even women here from good families who go to good universities and get good grades do not expect most of the time to be able to make good money. So why would they even try? Japan's old fashionedness is killing them in this regard.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Why does the country have to make education free for students who do not study hard? They think colleges as their passports to get good jobs. There are too many colleges in Japan.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Good idea! Now all they have to do is to develop a realistic curriculum. What happens between high school and college/university graduate at the moment can hardly be called education.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

@thepersoniamnow: I am not so sure that "motivation" is the problem with Japan's educated women. It could be that these women, as they grow up, see what the men around them have to endure in the workplace and wisely want none of it ...

9 ( +10 / -1 )

“I talked about some of the underlying reasons for the slowdown in growth and productivity and the dangers of what happens if these issues that are dividing societies are not addressed,” Stiglitz told reporters.

And I'm sure Abe was all ears on this one, and the conversation was talked through to a logical conclusion and inspired a new ideas for reform [cough].

Or is Dr Stiglitz just window dressing, like the ads we see all over the place with foreigners in them. Great as poster boys and girls, but don't wanna hear what they have to say unless what they say is just gushing over how amazing Japan is.

Perhaps 'Dr' Joseph Fritzl is a more fitting face for Abe's campaign-to-come on education reform...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

His policies are not bold at all, let alone 'enough'.

And the /first/ stage of Abenomics was never completed. It was a money manipulation exercise in the end, like that would help.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The public education expense in Japan becomes higher and higher as students progress through the system. In fact, there is an economic disincentive for children to study unless parents are willing to fork out money for books, uniforms, school trips,insurance, footwear, give up time for the PTA and pay for the requisite time at cram school. All in all, even for those that study hard and succeed there is still a mountain of expense that awaits!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

it should be free up to high school, but college shouldn't be included. not everyone needs college education, nor does everyone is capable of finishing it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Free education is a great idea as long as it is education and not brainwashing.

Education teaches people to think. Brainwashing teaches them to believe. I suspect Abe's idea is the introduction of more brainwashing.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

there should be less of an emphasis on getting a college degree, which is pretty useless, and more of an emphasis on trade schools and technical colleges. for many decades now, we have been brainwashed into believing that a college degree is essential, but that's just not the case. a four-year degree does little to prepare you for the rigors of the workforce. besides the partying, there's little to show for it.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Japan's education system has many problems noted above of which out of pocket expense for families but one of many, BUT yes with the amount of taxes over the last 40yrs Japan should have been EASILY been able to provide ""FREE"" education(ie paid by taxes already given to govt)

The problem, as with many financial problems is due to poor budgeting, wasting said budgets, over staffing, inefficiency, & the biggies graft & corruption(plain ole corruption & INSTITUTIONAL corruption) which are beyond massive in scale.

I figure about 20-30% of taxes over the last 4 decades has been lost to graft & corruption, FIX THIS! And Japan will have a LOT of $$ available to fix its other ills that need some good medicine.

Upping the consumption tax & higher income taxes WILL NOT solve this & certainly BEFORE its even considered Japan needs to tackle & eliminate most of the graft & corruption, there is a TON of $$$ there, that's where the $$$ is & always has been!!

Even if Japan does do this, the mind set & & administrative aspect will be another huge one to tackle.

Personally as I have said many times I think the only hope is a NEW RESTORATION, a wholesale change, but things aren't bad enough yet for that to be considered

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What a load of flannel. The juku companies, the private schools and private universities are massive contributors to LDP coffers and reap the rewards by making vast profits from the current system. Like Japan Agriculture they are a core supporter of the LDP and the Education Ministry bureaucrats parachute straight into high-paying amakudari jobs on retirement.

Joseph Stiglitz is there to add a veneer of international heavyweight support to Abe's disastrous policies which are, as everyone knows, a complete failure. At least twice last year Abe asked Keidanren to increase salaries and twice they told him to get lost.

This is all just smoke and mirrors windowdressing designed to distract attention from the outrageous stories of corrupt land deals being exposed in the Diet right now. There is another dubious land deal being discussed, involving Abe, his wife and a private school operator over a university in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture.

It must just be coincidence that this "story" appears at exactly the same time as the scandals over Moritomo Gakuen and this Kake Educational Institution...

7 ( +9 / -2 )

“Stiglitz has many ideas that agree with some of the things that we are trying to do in the second stage of Abenomics,” Abe said after the panel met.>

Ambiguous name dropper

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Settle down now. Nothing is going to change and you know it.

Abe needs some deflection from the Osaka school and his Nippon Kaigi ties.

He is merely having Stiglitz here to give "show" to his dog and pony dance. In reality the "education" industry here is too lucrative for the LDP.

OK, so move along now there is nothing to see here but some parsley as garnish.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

How will they decide who gets what? Frankly, I think all kids with a single mom under or hovering near the poverty lines should be given free education all the way through up to university graduation. I'm not sure a family with a parent at home not working because of spouse benefits should be allowed such support. Also curious if there will be a clause in it that states the students needs to gain employment for X amount of years or they'll have to pay it back. Will supportive of this, I can see this kind of thing being abused by some.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@tmarie - there will always be abuse. People will live together without registering their marriage so they can benefit for programs meant for single mothers. Yet all the world around them will think they are married. As kyushubill commented, we will likely see no real changes, anyway.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I applaud the plan most esp if Jyoungsters would avail of that plan. I do not mean to discriminate but I feel a kind of sadness whenever I see a Jyoung man and woman who do not go beyond junior or senior high who opted to marry or work in the fusoku while some foreign residents avail of student loans to pursue college or semmon gakko. How can we be sure those foreign grantees would be paying back when some of their parents are being creative to avoid paying govt fees!

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I don't think Abe has thought this through and it is just another hollow promise that will fall flat like, increasing childcare facilities and getting more women into the workforce. Abe is great at talking the talk, but fails miserably when it comes to walking the walk. A plan of free education would require a total restructure of the education system. While school fees are quite high, the major cost of public schooling is uniforms and school club equipment. Will the government be supplying these? I sincerely doubt it! Japan already spends far less on education than any of the other G8 countries. Many of the public schools were built 30-40 years ago and have not been touched since. They are dirty and delapadated. The only thing that gets upgraded are chalkboards and desks. Most multimedia equipment and computers are supplied by the P & C. To give a free education would mean even less government spending on the upkeep of the schools. Japan puts most of the financial burden of education into the parents and it is impossible to change without restructuring the whole education system. Abe is just a bag of hot air!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@Dirk T Maybe so, but compared to poorer countries or the 3rd world they have it good. My point is that they couldn't make a respectable wage if they tried.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Sounds like zichi and I had the same experience: education up to university level in the UK, with all tuition fees paid and help with living expenses. A very far cry from the student-loan hell young people in the UK face today - from policies put in place by people who themselves benefitted from a free education.

I do not agree with the idea of help being only for low-income families. It's the child that gets the help, not its parents. Help should be in keeping with the child's needs and abilities, not the parents' income or lifestyle choices. tmarie would have children penalised for their parents' lifestyles. Is a child with a stay-at-home parent any less deserving of an education than the child of a single mother? Or the child of divorced parents? Or, as Dan Lewis mentions, parents who to all intents and purposes are married but remain single on paper? I don't think so.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Japans highly-skilled workforce, some of the longest working hours in the world and what has it done for the J-economy for the last 25+ yrs!? Clearly there are things missing. Adding more of the same wont bring about different results. A complete rethink is needed, if this is even possible in Japan

-1 ( +1 / -2 )


Through the door there came familiar laughter, I saw your face and heard you call my name. Oh my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same. ♫

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Hmm, if you want a higher skilled and knowledgeable workforce invest more in tertiary education. Even if you get more poor students into university, the quality of the majority of universities in Japan are well below par - they hardly learn anything!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Settle down now. Nothing is going to change and you know it. Abe needs some deflection from the Osaka school and his Nippon Kaigi ties.

Well if that's what he's trying to do he should stay away from anything to do with education.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

When I studies in the US at the end of the 90s, there was a commercial on TV that said "A mind is a terrible thing to waste". Modern economies are brain driven, unlike the muscle driven economies of old days. And there are relatively few good brains. I think free education to those without the means is a great benefit to society. That kid might be the scientist who cures the otherwise fatal disease that you have. All students at Tokyo University can get a scholarship from JASSO (育英会), which guarantees they can graduate.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Free education, sure fire political headline grabber, the reality is finding the funding in an economy already overburdened with huge debts.

Joseph Stiglitz, is another in a long line of take your pick mystic meg economists, with all the answers, however accountable to no one, and devoid of any responsibility for failure to deliver the promised bottom line increases in productivity.

Stiglitz also recommended that Japan raise salaries for workers in education and healthcare to draw more workers into the services sector, raise minimum wages, raise public-sector wages and increase productivity........Stiglitz is looking at Abe san watch, them telling him the time, Stiglitz is announcing the what, but is not taking any responsibility for the how.

Pisa tests: UK lags behind in global school rankings..... The is a upside Japan could make a better job of free schooling than the UK


-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The exams between high school levels has to stop. That's just debilitating on the kids. That would free up mental energy to actually learn something in university instead of phoning it in.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@tmarie - there will always be abuse. People will live together without registering their marriage so they can benefit for programs meant for single mothers. Yet all the world around them will think they are married.

I have no idea but are single mother benefits better than the spouse benefits?

tmarie would have children penalised for their parents' lifestyles. Oh Cleo give me a break. Trolling is what that comment is.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

No matter how much funding the tax payer throws at the education system, learning environment , teacher, and parent must commit unconditionally. Above all Parents are the key. The patience and time a parent devotes to supporting their children though there homework and studies the more rewarding the end results will be. All in all we're just another brick in the wall.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Pisa tests: UK lags behind in global school rankings..... The is a upside Japan could make a better job of free schooling than the UK

UK education today is (apparently) a far cry from what it was when zichi and I were schoolkids. PISA only started in 2000, long after the 11+ and grammar schools had been sacrificed to the comprehensive system. The system that helped zichi and me no longer exists.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The expression that leaps out is "for some households".

I'm all for the government spending more on children, but the cost of education is a burden for many, not "some households". Personally I think having to pay for public senior high school (i.e., 16 to 18) is much more incongruous than having to pay to attend college. Though not compulsory, most parents would like their kids to graduate SHS at least.

Quite a few self-employed people in Japan are "low-income", but only because they choose to take a low salary for tax purposes and get away with sticking lots of things on expenses. My guess would be that this is more common than actual couples pretending to be separate to game the system.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I can only talk from personal experience cleo. I will always be eternally grateful to my Mother and Father, who though thick and thin, tolerance and sacrifice, all to provide us the best opportunities.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

More college graduates go to the job market will further drag down skilled employees salary and lead to social chaos or economic efficiency. Free education is good for theory but not in practices.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

itsonlyrocknroll - I fully agree with you that parents do make all the difference. If two kids of comparable ability are in the same school, doing the same curriculum, the kid whose parents are interested, involved and able to help will do better than the kid left to his own devices at home. Still helps if neither kid has to worry about student loans, though.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If it can be done, do it! Screwing your nation out of an education is a sure-fire way to ensure the country's downfall, likely even in your own life time. But...

"These are all policies that Abe has adopted recently, but some economists say the pace of improvement in wages has been too slow."

Sorry, but Abe has adopted nothing but lip-service laws, so I doubt very much free education will come until there are no children left to get it, and even then it will full of clauses and loop holes that will force people to pay in other ways.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I would concentrate on finding ways to improve standards for the lowest 15%. I don't know what to say about students loans, I am biased, I think a grant system, the means testing can be harsh though, especially if Governments under-fund the system, it took me five years to pay my parents back, and I am one of the fortunate ones. Some tech businesses pay their skilled grads student loans off, in return for fixed period loyalty contracts.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sounds good, but is it free or free now pay later?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I'm for free education for everyone, even if they raise taxes by 100%, I don't want my kids to live in a society of stupids.

Do not move to the USA.

The best school system in the world, Finland. Totally free education.

Education in Finland is an education system with no tuition fees and with fully subsidised meals served to full-time students. The present education system in Finland consists of daycare programmes (for babies and toddlers) and a one-year "pre-school" (or kindergarten for six-year-olds); a nine-year compulsory basic comprehensive school (starting at age seven and ending at the age of sixteen); post-compulsory secondary general academic and vocational education; higher education (University and University of applied sciences); and adult (lifelong, continuing) education.

Abe is right on this point, Japan is running out of kids. The ones they do have need to be highly educated for Japan to survive.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And by ''free'' they mean paid by the taxpayers. Japanese people really need to elect new people in office, someone who actually understands the basic principles of how an economy works. Some people laugh and mock people who copy others, but i would say it is far more laughable to repeat the exact same failed policies that lead to the exact same results over and over again. Smart people would copy the policies that work, and remove the policies that don't. It might have been understandable to adopt failed policies decades ago, but there is no excuse to keep adopting the same policies that have a wide history track record of failed results. Japan needs to stop copying American technologies, and start copying American policies.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Having to pay to attend a government high school in a country where nearly everyone attends high school is odd.It is a hangover from a previous era when only a minority stayed on at school later than 15.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Education, education, education! Make it free for all students as in Germany and some other European countries. It's the best investment any government can make. And in Japan it would have the added side effect of removing what might be one of the main reasons people don't want to have children.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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