Connect with us

Politics & Security

EDITORIAL |  End Taxpayer Subsidies to North Korean Schools in Japan

While almost 100 local governments in Japan give subsidies to North Korean schools in their areas, these schools, in turn, teach anti-Japan curriculums.



Police stand guard in front of the general headquarters of the Chosen Soren offices in Tokyo on March 7. (© Sankei by Masahiro Sakai)

A total of 93 local governments across the country gave subsidies of more than ¥230 million JPY ($1.5 million USD) in taxpayer funds to North Korean schools in Japan in FY2022. Despite this, the number of municipalities making such payments dropped below 100 for the first time.

The General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chosen Soren in Japanese, or Chongryon in Korean) has a strong say in the operation of these North Korean schools. Furthermore, the content of their curriculum does not follow the Japanese public school curriculum. Rather, it sings the praises of the dictatorial regime in Pyongyang. In addition, these schools have been plagued by inappropriate management. 

The time has come to stop turning a blind eye to these abuses and pull the plug on subsidies coming out of Japanese taxes

Ministry Documents Public Subsidies

North Korean schools differ in nature from regular elementary, junior high, and senior high schools in Japan. All other schools are defined under Japan's Basic Act on Education. Instead, individual prefectures grant Chosen Soren schools approval to operate as "miscellaneous schools." In some cases, local governments at various levels provide them with support in forms such as tuition subsidies. 

Internal documents of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology reveal the extent of these subsidies. 

In FY2022, 10 prefectures (including Aichi and Hyogo) and 83 municipalities (including Kyoto and Yokohama) provided subsidies to these schools. That represents a drop of roughly 40% from the 22 prefectures and 132 municipalities doing so in FY2011. Nevertheless, it defies belief that so many local governments continue to provide public funds to subsidize Chosen Soren schools. 

History textbook "Modern Korean History" used by Chosen High School. (© Sankei, 2010)

Schools Diverge From Japanese Education Law

Furthermore, the government has excluded Chosen Soren schools from its policy of requiring free tuition for state-run high schools. That means they can charge tuition even though they receive public funds. 

At the same time, in 2016, the Ministry of Education issued a notification urging local governments to consider the appropriateness of providing subsidies to these schools. It pointed out that "Chosen Soren is exercising influence in terms of educational content, personnel, and finances."


After carrying out investigations, Tokyo and Osaka terminated these subsidies. They discovered that the schools' textbooks frequently praised North Korea's dictatorship. Furthermore, there were dubious administrative practices, such as allowing the Chosen Soren organization to use parts of school facilities for free. 

There have also been cases in which local governments dropped the subsidies after the schools failed to abide by conditions. One such condition is informing students about the abductions issue in their textbooks.

Still Under Pyongyang's Influence

It is obvious that, even now, North Korean schools remain beholden to Chosen Soren. For example, a video of the founding ceremony of a North Korean school was posted on a Chosen Soren-operated website. It showed portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the grandfather and father, respectively, of current North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. These portraits hang in the schools in Japan. Elsewhere in the video, a Chosen Soren official read a congratulatory message.

North Korea evidences no desire to solve the issue of its abduction of Japanese citizens. Moreover, it continues to escalate military tensions by pursuing the development of nuclear weapons and launching ballistic missiles

It is wrong to legitimize the subsidies by saying, "The children are blameless." These are schools in Japan that do not follow Japanese educational guidelines. There are also other issues of transparency. For example, the opaque manner in which the schools collect "donations" from the tuition assistance provided to parents. 

Spending public money in this manner is tantamount to benefiting a dictatorial regime. Moreover, it does nothing to further the education of the children concerned.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun


Our Partners