Chōsen gakkō

Chōsen gakkō (Japanese: 朝鮮学校 Chōsen gakkō; Korean: 조선학교) are schools located in Japan at which Korean students receive education. It is sponsored by North Korea and Chongryon.

Chōsen gakkō are foreign schools for Koreans in Japan who strongly support North Korea, although they are not acknowledged as regular schools by Koreans in Japan who support South Korea and Japanese who support the South over the North. On the opposite side, Kankoku gakkō(韓国学校)are Korean schools sponsored by South Korea and operated by Mindan. Kankoku gakkō have fewer students than Chōsen gakkō, but they are acknowledged by South Koreans. Koreans who live in Japan supporting South Korea are likely to attend a Kankoku gakkō. Alternatively, they can go to a normal school in Japan with Japanese when there is no Kankoku gakkō in their area. Most Koreans who have lived in Japan since they were born, however, go to normal schools even if there is a Kankoku gakkō near them.[1]

As of 2013, there were 73 North Korean grade schools and ten North Korean high schools in Japan.[2] As of 2014, there were about 150,000 pro-North Korea Zainichi Koreans in Japan, and they form the clientele of the North Korean schools.[3] As of 2013, the North Korea-aligned schools had almost 9,000 ethnic Korean students.[2]

There is also a North Korea-aligned university in Japan, Korea University.[2]


The schools were established by Koreans who came to Japan during the pre-World War II period and during the war. Historically the North Korean government and the Chongryon provided funding for the North Korean schools in Japan. Justin McCurry of The Guardian stated that politically conservative Japanese people opposed the schools because since they believed that "a group that blatantly proclaims its loyalty to an unfriendly regime" should not receive the same treatment as the traditional Japanese education system.[3]

The schools received increasing support in the 1950s and 1960s since many Koreans in Japan sided with the Chongryon; at the time North Korea appeared to have good economic prospects.[2]

Beginning in 2010 and by 2014 increasing tensions between the Japanese and North Korean governments caused Japanese cities and prefectures to end subsidies to North Korean schools.[3] In the fiscal year of 2011 the Osaka Prefectural Government ended subsidies to a North Korean educational corporation which operates ten schools.[4]

The Japanese central government also took measures against the schools. In 2010 it prevented North Korean high schools from being a part of a tuition free waiver program.[3] In February 2013 the Japanese central government, citing the development of the North Korean nuclear program and a lack of cooperation regarding the North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens,[4] officially declared that North Korean schools may not be a part of the tuition waiver program.[3]

The January 2013 passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2087, which increased sanctions against North Korea, caused North Korean government support for the schools to erode.[3]

By 2014 the loss of funding put many North Korean schools in financial peril.[3]


In 2014 Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University in Tokyo director Robert Dujarric stated that the North Korean government uses the North Korea-aligned schools as a means to propagandize, and Takushoku University professor Hideshi Takesada stated that the schools teach obedience to Kim Jong-un and uses "very ideological" curriculum.[5]

As of 2013 many schools use their own curriculum distinct from that of North Korean curriculum. The schools' teachers generally write their own textbooks.[2]

Around 2003 many North Korean primary and junior high schools removed portraits of the Kim Il-sung family from the classrooms due to a belief that such portraits were not appropriate for small children.[2] In 2014 Kim Chol, the principal of a Chongryon elementary school in Ikuno-ku, Osaka, stated that most North Korean-aligned schools in Japan no longer display portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il since the schools wanted to attract more students and because many parents had different political ideas.[4]



Closed and/or merged schools


See also


  1. ""Center of Ethnic Education" Tokyo Korea School ,Tokyo Kankoku gakko, "When we need more support from South Korea". THE FACT JPN. 2013-12-09. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
  2. Talmadge, Eric. "Japan turns up pressure on pro-Pyongyang schools" (). Associated Press. August 24, 2013. Retrieved on April 12, 2015. Alternate link at() Yahoo! News. Alternate link at Fox News.
  3. McCurry, Justin. "Japan's Korean schools being squeezed by rising tensions with Pyongyang" () The Guardian. Monday 15 November 2014. Retrieved on 12 April 2015.
  4. Watanabe, Natsume. "Grade school for Zainichi Koreans in Osaka struggling to survive" (). The Japan Times. August 11, 2014. Retrieved on October 14, 2015.
  5. Reynolds, Isabel. "North Korean schools in Japan soldiering on despite tough times" (). Bloomberg News at The Japan Times. November 13, 2014. Retrieved on April 12, 2015.
  6. "ウリハッキョ一覧" (). Chongryon. Retrieved on October 14, 2015.
  7. "ウリハッキョ一覧" (). Chongryon. November 6, 2005. Retrieved on October 15, 2015. Compare the school names in the 2005 page to the current one. Changes in the names indicates the removal of educational stages.
  8. "The Education System and Schools Archived 2013-07-27 at the Wayback Machine" (). Government of Kanagawa Prefecture. Retrieved on October 13, 2015.

Further reading


(in Japanese) Available online:

Not available online:

  • 松下 佳弘. "Administrative Measures and Counteractions over the "Total Closure" of Korean Schools between 1949 and 1951 : The Case Study of Aichi Dai-roku Choren Elementary School in Kozakai Town, Hoi Gun" (朝鮮人学校の「完全閉鎖」をめぐる攻防(一九四九~五一年) : 愛知第六朝連小学校(宝飯郡小坂井町)の事例から). 研究紀要 (20), 155-188, 2015-07. 世界人権問題研究センター. See profile at CiNii.
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