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November 10, 2009

An increase in the influence of the Japan Teachers Union


The Japan Teachers Union (Nikkyoso) seems to have gained a lot of influence over education policy because of its support for the Democratic Party of Japan. Many believe that many of the new government's education initiatives have been heavily influenced by Nikkyoso.

The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that 'The downscaling of the achievement tests is a typical example of the policy changes. The tests used to be taken by all sixth-graders at public primary schools and all third-graders at public middle schools. However, starting next fiscal year, 40 percent of classes selected from primary and middle schools around the nation will have to take the tests. Nikkyoso criticized the nationwide tests in its policy proposals, saying they encourage the ranking of students and schools, and inflame competition among them.'

Other examples are the government's plans to make public high schools free and review the system for renewing teachers' licenses. These are both initiatives that Nikkyoso has championed.

Nikkyoso is Japan's largest and oldest teachers' union. It was a long-standing opponent of the previous LDP government, opposing the government policies of requiring the singing of the national anthem and raising the flag at schools as well as the screening of history textbooks.

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