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June 05, 2003

UN Looking Out For Foreign Students

The government has failed to address the problem of many non-Japanese children not going to school due to bullying and discrimination despite calls by a U.N. child rights panel, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations said Wednesday. The group sent the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva an "alternative report" on problems affecting children in Japan that the government failed to mention in its report submitted in November 2001 in which it was supposed to report its responses to a range of recommendations the panel made in 1998, the group said.

Regarding the education of non-Japanese children, the U.N. report said, "To rectify the status of many non-Japanese children not going to school, an environment allowing them to attend should be provided by eradicating bullying and discrimination against them," according to the group. But Tokyo did not touch on the issues of bullying and discrimination, and only said, "Each school is making efforts to help them adapt in deference to their homeland tongue and customs," it said. "It can be hardly said the government perceived the (committee's) views faithfully as Japan referred to them only briefly in the second report," the association said in releasing the report.

As one of the few available statistics on truancy among non-Japanese children, the group cited a 1999 survey by a city in Aichi Prefecture that found 85 of the 187 registered foreign residents of junior high school age, or 45.5%, were not in school. It also said some 30,000 children were of high school age in a fiscal 2000 tally of registered foreign residents, but an education ministry survey the same year on students who need Japanese language training found only 197 non-Japanese at high schools. All foreign nationals are required to register upon entry into the country. (Kyodo)

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