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April 12, 2009

First international school operating under Japan's education system opens in Chiba


The first international school operating under the supervision of the Ministry of Education opened in Makuhari, Chiba yesterday. Unlike other international schools, students will have no trouble switching to regular Japanese elementary or junior high schools.

Makuhari International School is accepting students from 3 years old to elementary school 4th graders. A 5th and 6th grade will be added in 2011. All classes, except Japanese language classes, are carried out in English.

The key person pushing for a school of this kind has been Akiko Domoto, the governor of Chiba. In an interview given while the school was being planned she said, 'I first saw the need for this kind of school in the 1970s when I was a television journalist. In making a documentary about school dropouts, I found that children returning from overseas had a very tough time. Many were bullied at school because they could not speak Japanese well. The result is that children often stop speaking their second language because they don’t want to be different.'

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