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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Osaka to keep funding pro-Pyongyang schools


Staff writer

OSAKA -- Osaka municipal officials said Monday that the city will continue to provide financial support for schools affiliated with the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun), despite calls for the policy to be reconsidered.

The measure was included in a package of administrative steps aimed at meeting the needs of the city's foreign resident community.

The package was drawn up in response to proposals on improving city services submitted by 22 foreigners and four organizations surveyed by the municipal government late last year.

Osaka currently provides about 30 million yen annually to 11 Chongryun-affiliated schools, but some city assembly members have questioned whether municipal support for the institutions is a good idea given the rise in anti-North Korea sentiment over its nuclear program and its abduction of Japanese nationals.

"The Chongryun-affiliated schools have asked for ongoing support and the city replied that it will continue to offer necessary assistance," said Yuichi Kashiwai of the city's human rights division. "That includes financial support."

Osaka schools run by the pro-Seoul Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan) are supported by Osaka Prefecture -- not the city -- and receive about 310 million yen annually. A school for Chinese residents receives 1 million yen a year from the city.

Meanwhile, two other issues of concern cited by all those surveyed included the possibility of being elected to local office and becoming local-level civil servants.

On the former, the city did not give a direct answer, saying only that it was ultimately up to the Diet to debate and make a decision on the issue.

Regarding the latter, the city said progress had been made in hiring foreign residents at the local level for certain noncareer, specialist positions. It added, however, that it would wait for central government guidance before deciding on allowing them to take career-track posts.



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The Japan Times

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