Japanese Govt Shelves Introduction Of Sept. Start To School Year

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The government and the ruling coalition moved toward a decision Monday to shelve the idea of changing the start of the school year from April to September, which had been under consideration for next fiscal year. The idea had initially been advanced due to concerns over the prolonged suspension of school due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The move took into account voices of concern about the potential disruptive effects of changing the enrollment system, such as a possible increase in the number of children on school waiting lists and a delay in the start of compulsory education.

The Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito have separately compiled a proposal calling for September enrollment not to be introduced prematurely.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had talks with Komeito Policy Research Council Chairman Noritoshi Ishida and others at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday, where Abe said the September enrollment idea is “one of the options, but it shouldn’t be done hastily,” showing his intention not to introduce the system too soon.

“We will do our best not to create an achievement gap in learning,” Abe said, stressing the need to quickly find ways to help students catch up on their studies. “It’s better to think about September enrollment separately.”
The prime minister received Komeito’s demand that September enrollment not be introduced in the next school year.

In response to the prolonged suspension of school, the government was considering an introduction of September enrollment to secure enough time for students to study.

A team comprising vice ministers and other senior officials from the ministries and agencies concerned had summarized issues and had come up with various plans.

One plan was to make the shift all at once by having students born in a 17-month period from April 2 to Sept. 1 enroll together in a school year to start in September — compared with current system in which students born in a 12-month period from April 2 and April 1 begin the school year together in the spring.

Another of the team’s plans was to complete the transition to September enrollment over five years, pushing enrollment back one month per year while accepting students born in a moving 13-month period each time.

Some governors, including Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, have called for the introduction of September enrollment, while others have pointed to problems such as the financial burden on families affected by such a change, the availability of nursery facilities and the financial burden on schools.

The LDP’s working team compiled a proposal to be submitted to the government and was to submit it to the prime minister on Tuesday, suggesting it would be difficult to introduce quickly within this fiscal 2020 or fiscal 2021.

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