Opposed by “the education sector and others” the Finance Ministry has backed down from its earlier proposal to increase class size to 40… see YS article below for more.

35-student class size likely to stay

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec 14, 2014

The government will likely maintain the current class size of 35 for first graders at public primary schools, according to sources.

In the fiscal 2015 budget compilation process, the Finance Ministry had asked the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry to restore the class size to 40 so that the number of classes could be reduced.

But due to opposition from the education sector and others, the Finance Ministry has decided to withdraw its proposal for 40-student classes, the sources said.

The current system, which lowers the maximum number of students per class from 40 to 35, was introduced in fiscal 2011.

The move was aimed at preventing so-called first-grader troubles — whereby such students exhibit behavior problems as they cannot adjust to the new environment of primary school — by making it easier for teachers to keep an eye on students.

However, the Finance Ministry concluded that a reduced class size of 35 students did not necessarily help prevent such behavior and argued for revising the compulsory education system law to revert to the previous 40.

The ministry had intended to lessen the state’s burden in funding compulsory education by about ¥9 billion by cutting the number of teachers and school staff by about 4,000, hoping to instead use the fiscal resources to realize a plan for tuition-free preschool education, the sources said. But a number of education ministry officials and members of the education sector called for a withdrawal of the plan