politics

Japan's free education plan requires fiscal balancing act

31 Comments
By Noriyuki Suzuki

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31 Comments
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Here's an idea. Allow parents and students to decide regular school or cram school, but not both. Limit or eliminate homework. Dezombify the kids.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

...If cram school is better, why can't they offer diplomas? Just my thoughts

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Economists believe another option being floated -- securing funds through a higher consumption tax rate

Yeah, yeah, yeah, just like the last sales tax hike was supposed to be used to pay off the public debt, which never happened. Why do people keep believing this guff spouted by Abe and his cronies? Not one of his campaign promises in nearly seven years has come into play. The only things he has done are increased sales tax and lowered corporate tax. There has been no increase in child or aged care. There has been no increase in salaries. There has been no economic growth. Consumer spending has decreased by up to 15% in some sectors. Child poverty is increasing. And, he has borrowed money from the BOJ twice, further increasing the public debt. He is a fraud!

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Education is a process that needs both long-term commitment and investment. So, the government's move toward making preschool education free in Japan must sound attractive to many.

Pre-School education? Sounds more like making day-care free for working parents.

Personally speaking, and this is a problem that few seem willing to discuss, is the parents of children with one working spouse, who put their children into daycare, taking up spots that are needed by single working parents.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

There are systems that work Norway, Finland, Denmark (Happiest people, most educated) way cheeper to implement than the current system. For the future steal a better system and make it your own. Did it before.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

There are systems that work Norway, Finland, Denmark (Happiest people, most educated) way cheeper to implement than the current system

Funny that these "happy" people have the highest suicide rate in Europe, and they suffer from population decline just like Japan, so the Scandinavian systems are probably not going to help here.

On the opposite side, places like America do not have free education, or national healthcare. American does not have mandatory maternity leave, or free healthcare for children, yet America's birthrate remains high, and population growth remains strong. But then America has a higher median income than Japan, and much higher disposable income.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Suicide is not relevant to this discussion. Please stay on topic.

critics say the plan is unfair as those without children are forced to contribute.

Why don't these critics understand that they will be contributing to their future as a higher population means more people paying into the pension & health care system. Then, hopefully those systems wouldn't go bankrupt.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Sangetsu3 where are you taking the statements from? When I read the OECD statistics it tells: birth rate is from migrants. Salaries are not so fantastic as in the top countries. Poverty rate is highest among developed countries. Crime rate makes the country unsafe like Sudan. People struggle to with the student loan ....

Japan should also make Universities free of charge.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

On the opposite side, places like America do not have free education, or national healthcare. American does not have mandatory maternity leave, or free healthcare for children, yet America's birthrate remains high, and population growth remains strong.

yeah, but this is only due to immigration and births from immigrants. the middle class and upper middle class have a birth rate that is comparable to japan and western european countries.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japan should also make Universities free of charge.

Before you make the Universities free of charge, you need to make high schools free of charge. High school is as big if not bigger burden on parents. I have 2 in high school this year and it is killing me financially.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

this is a load of huff to get citizens to back rewriting the Japanese constitution. cough, cough, article 9, cough, cough.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I personally am very very lucky that all my education right up to my PhD was absolutely free. Didn't go to any fancy school, but it was a school that cared for its pupils and pushed the more talented ones to do their best. And I didn't have to go through any hell like the Japanese educational system. No fierce competition, rote-memorizing, cram schools and what-not.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

That said, what is important is how the money is spent.

Obviously when people spend their own money, it is spent better than when government spends other people for other people.

So how about cutting taxes of parents with children in school, so they can then afford to pay for whatever education they think best for their children. I believe parents know better than central planners when it comes to their own children.

the parents of children with one working spouse, who put their children into daycare, taking up spots that are needed by single working parents.

I believe municipalities have points systems to prioritize to prevent this. BUt the day care system again is a big failure and it appears to me that central government is sitting right at the center of it.

People should be left with their own money and the free market would produce better outcomes than government run businesses.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Anyone visiting schools here would instantly think 3rd world;old,dirty and dark!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

My fist thought, why are there so many prisons? Not prisons SCHOOLS, FREE education go for it, Government should provid, free education, what's the down side? Health and infrastructure after that it's personal profit for those in the loop.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

yet America's birthrate remains high, and population growth remains strong. But then America has a higher median income than Japan, and much higher disposable income.

But it's not the people with the disposable income that are keeping the population growth strong either.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

People should be left with their own money and the free market would produce better outcomes than government run businesses.

You will find that affordable private day care here is not up to the same level as the local subsidized care facilities.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Pre-school is unnecessary for a kid education.

High school is to make a kid attain his/her potential.

Moreover, taxes should be paid by companies because they are based on it to make their margins.

There should be a huge tax advantages given to those with more kids.

Getting into debt for a useless diploma was not smart, same if buying flat or house overpriced. Just don't accept the scam.

I aslo don't understand why young person don't flee abroad by scores. They should know that illegal immigrants in Europe get more than if working in Japan (for example: 6.8 euros a day in France with free health care, and accomodation).

Good luck to expect too late changes from old croonies with no kid.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I aslo don't understand why young person don't flee abroad by scores. They should know that illegal immigrants in Europe get more than if working in Japan (for example: 6.8 euros a day in France with free health care, and accomodation).

I used to think your ideas were simply obscured by your limited command of the English language. I now know better.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

affordable private day care here is not up to the same level as the local subsidized care facilities.

Not the case where I live.

I pay more for private day care than I do for public day care. But the service is better hands down. In two ways - one that the service is actually available at all because public service is not, and two in that the quality of service is better, but then I pay more for it than I would for public so I expect that much.

The thing is that public care is not even available - the government has failed to correctly supply the right amount of service at the right price and right time. This is where open, free markets excel.

There may be a role for government in ensuring that everyone can access adequate day care, or education, or whatever. But that should be separate from the government itself trying to run those operations as something like a monopoly provider.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Not the case where I live.

Where do you live?

Down here in Okinawa, which has the second largest problem in Japan, outside of Tokyo, with regards to lack of day care options, private care is more expensive and the facilities are no where close to government subsidized facilities.

Much has to do with the affordability differences, where the government facilities typically charge based upon the income of the family, private facilities charge one flat rate, and seeing as how hard it is to get into public one's, privates one's pick up the slack, but when overall income is lower here, parents are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You will find that affordable private day care here is not up to the same level as the local subsidized care facilities.

Of course they're better. My kid spent 4 years in public daycare and it was absolutely terrific start to finish. Her first two years were spent in an inferior private facility. Only free market ideologues would claim otherwise. Ask a hundred Japanese moms what they'd prefer for their child.

But then some would say we should get the government out of our education all together. Nothing a few vouchers and the private market can't take care of, right--after all, it's only your child's life and education we're talking about. The market will their bums, right?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Imo the Constitution of so called 'modern democracies' should guarantee the right to FREE education for all citizens. Nothing to do with birth-rate but rather equal opportunity, for all (any positive impact on birth rate is/would be obviously welcome though). That's what we call solidarity and has been happening in many countries (well 'some', mainly in Europe) for decades.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

On the opposite side, places like America do not have free education, or national healthcare. American does not have mandatory maternity leave, or free healthcare for children, yet America's birthrate remains high, and population growth remains strong. But then America has a higher median income than Japan, and much higher disposable income.

This is absurd. America does have a national health care system that was passed under Obama. It's not the single-payer system that some liberals want, but it is a comprehensive national system. America also has free education K-12, which starts a year earlier than Japan's free education begins. Moreover, there are a lot of subsidized pre-school programs for low-income families, as well as subsidized health care for children in low-income families.

What's more, America's population growth is not strong. America's population growth is sustained only by immigration. Among women born in America, the birth rate is below replacement levels. If it were not for America's exceptionally high level of immigration, the country would be losing population.

Stop making up facts.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Where do you live?

Tokyo.

I am lucky in that I can actually use a private service at all. Most places I applied to had waiting lists hundreds of kids long.

It's not cheap what I pay for but it is still worth it to us. This is for each individual family to decide. In that respect I think having a diverse range of competing services available would be best, but rather than providers competing for customers, its customers competing for service in a tightly regulated market (I suspect designed to protect the public operators turf).

The obscene thing is that I have to pay both tax for a service that the local government fails to provide me with, as well as private costs. I'd rather than government got out of this business, and cut my taxes. I suspect we'd all do better if the government stuck to ensuring the needy had adequate means than trying to run the whole show.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Only free market ideologues would claim otherwise. Ask a hundred Japanese moms what they'd prefer for their child.

There is indeed much propaganda in the world. We are told that Hokkaido potatoes are superior to foreign ones, and thus import barriers protect the farmers.

You are trying to tell me contrary to personal experience that a great service was inferior. (The opposite may have been true in your case, which would imply that operator would not last long if all other consumers were in agreement.)

I suspect Japanese mothers just want to get their kids into daycare, and wouldn't be concerned if it was a private operation or public one. If there were an abundance of choices as happens in free markets with competition, they'd be able to choose the provider that best meets their needs in any case.

It's only ideology that stands between services being supplied effectively, and the status quo, where it is not.

Given this failure I am not inspired by the ambitions for central government to try to provide 'free' education either. The intentions aren't bad, just trying to fulfill them in a way that will likely fail.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

On the opposite side, places like America do not have free education

Though technically paid-for by taxes, US public K-12 schools are free, and some states offer free state universities for in-state residents.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is for each individual family to decide.

It's fortunate that you can make this choice, but believe me that is hardly the case for the overwhelming majority of people, at least down here, and I will bet in Tokyo as well.

What do you pay per month for day care? Just the tuition, at the private facility? 50,000, maybe 60,000, per month?

Far, far, too many families do not have the option, that's the reality of the problem. Pay for that kind of daycare, or put food on the table. The answer is obvious.

Kind of hard to pay even 40,000 per month, when you only are making 120,000 to 150,000 per month at a "full-time" job. That's reality for plenty of folks.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Oh, and let me add, my wife and I were fortunate enough to have the income to afford putting our three children through private schools for ES through HS, we could have built 2 houses for the amount of money we spent, but settled on one. Oh and pay for college too.

But I never will forget the single mothers and fathers who work two or three jobs just to feed cloth and house their children.

Japan has much going for it, but this issue of child care and education is one that the government needs to take care of, and not just focus on the elderly either.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Education is very important to make sure that Japanese know history and the cost of peace.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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