2018 Volume 85 Issue 2 Pages 186-195
In December 2016, the “Act on Securing Educational Opportunities Equivalent to Ordinary Education at the Stage of Compulsory Education” was established. In this paper, I discuss chronologically the legislative process of the act and organize the main points in deliberation and the main actors involved. This process constitutes an effort to grasp the meaning of the process and discussion of the Act in Japan.
The legislative process can be divided into three stages.
1st stage: January 2009 to June 2014, “Proposal for an Act on Securing Various Educational Opportunities for Children,” created by the Japanese Network of Free Schools.
2nd stage: June 2014 to February 2016, “Act on Securing Educational Opportunities Equivalent to Ordinary Education at the Stage of Compulsory Education,” established by the Parliamentary Association for Free Schools and Parliamentary Association for Night Junior High Schools, aiming to approve various learning sites outside the school system.
3rd stage: February 2016 to December 2016, “Act on Securing Educational Opportunities Equivalent to Ordinary Education at the Stage of Compulsory Education” established by both Parliamentary Associations, aiming to support children absent from school and their parents.
The Proposal created by the Japanese Network of Free Schools was based on the rights of children, seeking the introduction of alternative education to the public education system beyond the measures against school absenteeism. However, when the proposal was brought into the political arena, the Act was established as a measure against school absenteeism and as a part of a framework of human development and social investment policies.
The actors involved in establishing the Act are divided into four positions: (1) market-oriented deregulation: minorities within the Liberal Democratic Party (diversification of education, human resources development), (2) diversification of learning sites from the viewpoint of children's rights: Japanese Network of Free Schools and Democratic Party (diversification of education, children's rights), (3) collective education: Communist Party and Social Democratic Party (common education, children's rights), (4) national integration: majority within the Liberal Democratic Party (common education, social integration). In the process of establishing the act, the position (2) linked to (1), revealing an opposing axis between the diversification of education (deregulation) and common education.
Finally, the Act was established as a measure for absentee students. This process indicates the difficulty involved in going beyond schools.