The following article appeared in the Feb. 5 issue of the Daily Yomiuri, and as it is relevant to an important issue on the minds of many (see Letters to the Editor section), we've reproduced it here.
As the concept of internationalization catches on in Japan, an increasing number of Japanese parents are sending their children to international schools even though they know the Education Ministry does not validate them as primary or middle schools.
There are 18 international schools that accept students from any country and use English as the medium of instruction.
While the ministry does not have any data on the number of Japanese children attending international schools in Japan, an official of an international school in Tokyo says the number is increasing. At some schools, more than half of the students are Japanese.
At Nishimachi International School in Minato Ward, Tokyo, about 20 percent of the students are Japanese.
There are two reasons for the trend, according to the school official. Some parents want their children educated as international people, and others choose an international school because they are dissatisfied with the Japanese school system and its notorious "examination hell."
Some ward and municipal boards of education have issued warnings several times to parents who send their children to international schools, saying children who graduate from international schools have a hard time adapting to Japanese schools.
"I often talk with Japanese parents who want to send their children to an international school," said an American born in Japan who attended an international school. "But I think children are confused because they speak English only at school. In some cases, serious communication problems between parents and children occur."
"It is a very important period for children to develop their language skills and thinking abilities," said a former vice principal of an international school in Tokyo. "If they fail to adapt themselves to any society, they end up being rootless and not cosmopolitan."
Many children who lived overseas with their families often have a hard time adapting to Japanese society after returning home.
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