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Nihonjin gakkō (日本人学校 Nihonjin gakkō?), also called Japanese school, is a full-day school outside of Japan for native speakers of Japanese. It is an expatriate school designed for children whose parents are working on diplomatic, business, or education missions overseas and have plans to repatriate to Japan.
The schools offer exactly the same curriculum used in public elementary and middle schools in Japan, so when the students go back to Japan, they will not fall behind in the class. Some schools accept Japanese citizens only; others welcome Japanese speaking students regardless of citizenship.
They are accredited by Japan's Ministry of education and science and receive funding from the Japanese government. Every school has teachers transferred from Japan on a two- to three-year assignment. They hire locals as Japanese-speaking teachers, English and other language instructors, administrative assistants, gardeners, janitors and security guards. There were 85 schools worldwide as of April 2006, and all of these schools provide English classes in the primary education.
Schools that partially offer the nihonjin gakkō's curriculum after school hours or on weekends are sometimes called Japanese Schools, too, but strictly speaking they are categorized as hoshū jugyō kō or hoshūkō, a supplementary school.
As Japan recovered after World War II, increased numbers of Japanese international schools serving elementary and junior high school levels opened around the world. The first postwar Japanese overseas school was the Japanese School of Bangkok, which opened in 1956.
The Ministry of Education of Japan, as of 1985, encouraged the development of nihonjin gakkō, in developing countries, while it encouraged the opening of hoshū jugyō kō, or part-time supplementary schools, in developed countries. However, some Japanese parents in developed countries, in addition to those in developing countries, campaigned for the opening of nihonjin gakkō in developed countries due to concern about the education of their children.
In 1971, there were 22 nihonjin gakkō worldwide. During the postwar rapid economic growth in 1950s to early 1970s and Japanese asset price bubble in 1980s, the country gained economic power and many sogo shoshas and major industries sent their employees all over the world. That was when many nihonjin gakko were established to educate their children in Asia, Europe, Middle East, North, Central and South America. The number of nihonjin gakkō increased to 80 in 1986 with the opening of Japanese schools in Barcelona and Melbourne. As of May of that year 968 teachers originating in Japan were teaching at these Japanese schools worldwide. That month 15,811 students were enrolled in those schools. The number of nihonjin gakkō increased to 82 by 1987.
In the early 1980s, 40% of Japanese national children living in Europe attended nihonjin gakkō, while almost 95% of Japanese national children living abroad in Asia attended nihonjin gakkō.
Many Japanese parents abroad sent their children to Japan to attend high school after they completed the junior high school abroad, or leaving the children behind, so they could become accustomed to the difficult Japanese university entrance systems. Toshio Iwasaki, the editor of the Journal of Japanese Trade & Industry, stated that this reason inhibited the development of Japanese senior high schools in other countries. The first overseas international schools that served the senior high school level were the Rikkyo School in England, gaining senior high school level classes after 1975, and the Lycée Seijo in France, which opened in 1986. By 1991 Japanese international senior high schools were in operation in the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, Denmark, and Ireland.
By 1991 many overseas Japanese high schools were accepting students who were resident in Japan, and some wealthier families in Japan chose to send their children to Japanese schools abroad instead of Japanese schools in Japan.
With its rapidly growing economy, China is an exception. Schools in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong have been expanding and new schools had founded in Dalian, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Qingdao, Suzhou since 1991.
By 2004 there were 83 Japanese day schools in 50 countries.
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Nihonjin gakkō use Japanese as their language of instruction. The curriculum is approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) so that students may easily adjust upon returning to Japan. For foreign language classes, each school usually teaches English and, if different, a major local language of the country. Most nihonjin gakkō do not admit non-Japanese national students. This practice differs from those of American and British international schools, which do admit students of other nationalities.
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As of 2005-2007 Japanese national parents residing in the United States and Europe, as well as other industrialized and developed regions, generally prefer local schools over nihonjin gakkō, while Japanese parents in Asia and the Middle East prefer nihonjin gakkō.
In 2003 11,579 Japanese students living in Asia (outside of Japan) attended full-time Japanese schools, making up more than 70% of the Japanese students in Asia. In Oceania 194 Japanese pupils attended full-time Japanese schools, making up 7.7% of the total Japanese students in Oceania. In North America there were 502 students at full-time Japanese schools, making up 2.4% of Japanese pupils on that continent. As of 2007 there were a total of three nihonjin gakkō on the U.S. Mainland recognized by MEXT.
- The parents prefer the children to receive education in English: Nihonjin gakkō has only elementary and middle schools (Grade 1 through 9) that are mandatory in Japan. Some offer a kindergarten program as well as a high school program but it is uncommon. The children educated in English-speaking environment will be able to continue their education where they live with their parents. Otherwise they need to pass the entrance exam to enroll in a boarding school in Japan or one of the seven (as of October 2006) Shiritsu zaigai kyōiku shisetsu (私立在外教育施設) Japanese boarding schools worldwide.
- The parents take advantage of the situation and let the children be exposed to local culture and make non-Japanese friends.
- Many private and public Japanese schools have become flexible and accept expatriate students by having a separate requirements for admissions or offering exams in English.
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Nihonjin gakkos tend to be in the following types of areas in the world:
- Area with a big Japanese temporary resident population such as London and New York. Many students are staying only for a few years for their parent's business.
- Area where English is not the official language such as Düsseldorf, São Paulo, Dubai, and Kuala Lumpur. Many parents would send their child to a local school if they lived in an English-speaking country.
As of October 2006:
Asia (except the Middle East)
- People's Republic of China
- Republic of China (Taiwan)
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
Middle East (not including Africa)
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
- United States
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology classifies the following as overseas branches of Japanese private schools, or shiritsu zaigai kyoiku shisetsu (私立在外教育施設): They are not operated by Japanese associations.
- Seigakuin Atlanta International School (Atlanta, Georgia)
- Nishiyamato Academy of California (Lomita, California)
- Day school not authorized but designated by Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)
- Day schools neither authorized nor designated by MEXT
Central and South America
- The Japanese School of Buenos Aires
- Association Cultural Japonesa (in Bogotá)
- Costa Rica
- Escuela Japonesa de San José
- Escuela Japonesa en Guatemala
- Colegio Japones en Asunción
- Asociación "Academia de Cultura Japonesa" (Lima)
- Colegio Japones de Caracas
- Czech Republic
- See Middle East
- United Kingdom
- South Africa
- Guam (U.S.)
- See North America
- Lagos Japanese School (ラゴス日本人学校) - Designated and certified on March 1, 1975 (Showa 50), revoked March 29, 2002 (Heisei 14)
Asia (excluding Middle East):
- Calcutta Japanese School (カルカタ日本人学校) - Designated on March 30, 1976 (Showa 51), certified on December 18, 1992 (Heisei 4), revoked March 29, 2002 (Heisei 14).
- Medan Japanese School (メダン日本人学校)
Middle East (excluding Africa):
- Baghdad Japanese School (バグダッド日本人学校)
- Kuwait Japanese School (クウエイト日本人学校)
- Beirut Japanese School (ベイルート日本人学校) - Designated February 10, 1972 (Showa 47), revoked March 29, 2002 (Heisei 14)
- Former Yugoslavia
- Belgrade Japanese School (ベオグラード日本人学校)
- Belém Japanese School (ベレーン日本人学校) - Designated on February 25, 1977 (Showa 52), Certified on December 18, 1992 (Heisei 4), revoked March 29, 2002 (Heisei 14).
- Escola Japonesa de Belo Horizonte (ベロ・オリゾンテ日本人学校), a.k.a. Instituto Cultural Mokuyoo-Kai Sociedade Civil - Santa Amélia, Paumplha, Belo Horizonte - Designated on February 6, 1982 (Showa 57), Certified on December 18, 1992 (Heisei 4), revoked March 29, 2002 (Heisei 14).
- Vitória Japanese School (ヴィトリア日本人学校) - Designated February 10, 1981 (Showa 56), Certified December 18, 1992 (Heisei 4), revoked March 29, 2002 (Heisei 14)
- Ben-Ari, Eyal and John Clammer. Japan in Singapore: Cultural Occurrences and Cultural Flows. Routledge, 4 July 2013. ISBN 1136116184, 9781136116186. page unstated (Google Books PT34). "The biggest Japanese school in the world is in Singapore."
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- Mizukami, Tetsuo. The sojourner community [electronic resource]: Japanese migration and residency in Australia (Volume 10 of Social sciences in Asia, v. 10). BRILL, 2007. ISBN 9004154795, 9789004154797. p. 139.
- Mizukami, Tetsuo. The sojourner community [electronic resource]: Japanese migration and residency in Australia (Volume 10 of Social sciences in Asia, v. 10). BRILL, 2007. ISBN 9004154795, 9789004154797. p. 138.
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