An Analysis of the Educational Problem Faced by Immigrant Children in Japan

Topics: Japan, High school, Education in Japan Pages: 5 (1513 words) Published: November 11, 2008
In the age of globalization, people, products, money, everything crosses nations and society. Even Japan which is known as a closed society has no choice but to open its door. According to the Ministry of Justice, the number of registered foreign national increased from 782910 in 1980 to 2084919 in 2006 and its percentage of the total population is now 1.63%, compared with only 0.67% in 1980. However, Japanese society or at least the Japanese government seems to be closed to the people from other countries. It is said that Japan is the country which does not have definite immigration policy even today. Due to this vague attitude of government, a lot of immigrants living in Japan are forced to work in unstable and low-paid job and have difficulties in finding accommodation. In this essay, I would like to focus on problem of education on immigrant children.

The problems immigrant children have in school
Children who have come to Japan with their parents often have difficulties in studying in school due to their lack of ability in Japanese. According to a survey by the Ministry of education, the number of students who do not have adequate ability in the Japanese language increased from 5463 in 1991 to 16835 in 1999 and the number of schools having those children rose from 1973 to 5061. Because they do not have enough language skill, they are unable to understand what the teacher says during class and to interact with their teacher or classmates. Therefore, they tend to fail not only in national language classes (Japanese language class) but also in other subjects. They also have difficulties in making friends. Because they cannot say what they want to say and Japanese students sometimes are prejudice against foreigners, they are likely to have few friends and to be overwhelmed in their class. For these reasons, many children are prevented from entering higher education such as high school or university. Even though they have a strong ambition to study, it is difficult to enter high school without the necessary language ability because examinations in most schools are conducted in Japanese.

The Variety of Ethnic Backgrounds Immigrants has and the problems they face Immigrants living in Japan today are not from one country, but have a variety of backgrounds. Whilst Korean and Chinese, Taiwanese have been in Japan for many years and now are third-generation, ‘guest workers’ from the third world such as countries in South America have increased in Japan after 1980s. The revised Immigration Act in 1989 enables people with Japanese ancestry, called Nikkeijin, to come to Japan for working. In these different kind of ethnic minorities, the children of Nikkeijin Brazilians whose parents come to work in Japan are most likely to fail to progress to further education. This is because their parents have unstable jobs. According to Komai (2001), some parents think they will not stay long in Japan or do not have any plan for the future. Not knowing where they will be in future, children cannot concentrate on studying. Because parents believe they will return to their homeland sooner or later, they hesitate to send their children to Japanese school because their children will have difficulties with the language when they do so. In addition to the ethnic minorities listed above, there are people who came to Japan illegally or who work in Japan without permission from the government. It is said that there are approximately 300,000 working illegally in unskilled jobs. According to Tanaka (1993), many of them are from Thailand, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Iran and China. Because they live and work in Japan illegally, they cannot access social welfare or medical insurance services. Furthermore, it is difficult for them to send their children to school. Although there is no law or legal document to prohibit children of illegal workers from entering school, Miyazima (1993) stated in his book that in...

References: Komai, Hiroshi (2001) Foreign Migrants in Contemporary Japan, Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press.
Ministry of Justice (2008) ‘Immigration Control in Recent Years’ at (accessed: 25 August 2008).
Miyazima, Takashi (1993) ‘Ima Hahimatta gaikokujin no kodomo no kyoiku no kadai’. Kyoiku Hyoron, no.559, December, 18-23.
Sasagawa, Koichi (1993) Gaikokujin no gakushuken mondai to ‘posuto-kokuminkyoiku-jidai’ no kyoiku-gaku. Kyoiku, 43 (2), 16-27.
Shimada, Haruko (1994) Japan’s ‘Guest Workers’: Issues and Public Policies, Tokyo: Tokyo University Press.
Tanaka, Hiroshi (1993) ‘Gaikokuzin no Kenri to nihon shakai no yukue’. Kyoiku, 43 (2), 66-80.
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