Current concerns (19): Children to receive justice lectures

Children to receive justice lectures The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Justice Ministry has established a project team for judicial education for school children, who may be called on to be lay judges in the future. The lay judge system begins May 21. Though the ministry has held explanatory sessions about the lay judge system for teachers, this will be the first time for it to provide legal education for children. The program, to start in September, will involve ministry staff, including prosecutors, prison officers and probation officers, dispatched to primary, middle and high schools to give lectures on the nation’s judicial system, including the lay judge system. Lecturers will speak about their respective expertise. For example, prosecutors will supervise mock trials and prison officers will explain the treatment of convicted criminals after court rulings. Probation officers will explain parolee rehabilitation programs. Staff from the ministry’s regional legal affairs bureau offices will be in charge of teaching problems related to contracts and consumer affairs. Under the national guidelines for school curriculums revised last year and this year, students are supposed to learn about basic views on the law and citizen participation in trials at primary, middle and high schools. The new curriculum will be fully introduced at primary schools first, beginning with the 2011 academic year. The justice ministry decided to launch its own judicial education program ahead of the introduction of new curriculum at schools. The project team plans to create materials to be used in lectures by this summer, and distribute it to the ministry’s regional branches. After summer vacation, the ministry staff will be dispatched as lecturers to schools that have expressed interest in the program. If there are requests, lectures also will be given at lifelong learning courses organized by local governments. The Education, Science and Technology Ministry has applauded the Justice Ministry’s project, with one official saying, “It’ll help that experts actually working in the judicial field will support law education [for children].” According to the Justice Ministry, in the United States, judicial education programs for children at schools started in the 1970s, while similar projects have been introduced recently in Britain. (Apr. 12, 2009)

Foreign students finding jobs scarce (Apr.9)  Takashi Sakinaga Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer  Excerpt below…

“Foreign students seeking work in Japan after graduation are facing difficulties in finding jobs as employment conditions deteriorate because of the economic downturn.

More than 120,000 foreign students study in Japan annually. Observers say the government should support the students’s job-hunting efforts to keep them from losing interest in Japan and returning to their home countries. …”

“According to the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), the number of foreign students studying in Japan at universities, graduate schools and junior colleges has been on the rise in recent years. As of May 1 last year, a record 123,829 foreign students were studying in Japan, up 5,331 from the previous year. About 60 percent of the foreign students came from China, followed by students from South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, according to JASSO.

Many students from Asia hope to work in Japan. However, only 10,262 students were able to obtain working visas in 2007 after finding jobs. Many students ended up returning to their home countries after failing to find work.

The employment situation for foreign students has gone from bad to worse due to the economic downturn. According to the Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners–a job-placement office for foreign residents–there were 252 job listings targeting foreign students graduating in March available at the center as of Jan. 31, down 54 from the same period last year.

According to the organization, it is mainly small and medium-size companies that seek employees through the center. However, general manager Kazuo Hirasawa said companies across the spectrum are cutting the number of foreign students they hire.

The government has announced a plan to increase the number of foreign students studying in Japan to 300,000 by 2020 to enhance the country’s international competitiveness by securing excellent human resources from around the world.

However, the government’s measures to support foreign students finding jobs in Japan are limited, even though this is supposed to be an integral part of the government’s plan. The government is now planning to host job fairs targeting foreign students and a meeting of universities and companies interested in recruiting foreign students.

But observers say the government measures are failing to keep up with rapidly deteriorating employment conditions.

Mitsuhiro Asada, chief editor of J-Life, a free magazine targeting foreign students published by ALC Press, Inc., said: “Foreign students are integral to the future of Japan. If the government really wants to increase the number of foreign students, it needs to focus its efforts on improving the status of foreign students after they graduate–including setting a target figure for the number of foreign students hired by Japanese companies.”


Foreign students receiving more assistance in job hunt


When trying to get a job in Japan after completing their higher education here, foreign studentstudents often struggle with the nation’s peculiar job-hunting procedures, under which students usually start such activities as early as the latter half of their junior year and submit “entry sheets” rather than resumes to prospective employers for the first round of screening.

Many job-hunting foreign students are uncertain about how to fill in these entry sheets or how they are expected to behave during interviews.

Therefore, some universities have been taking steps to help their foreign students find jobs.

For example, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU), a private institution in Oita Prefecture whose foreign students accounts for 40 percent of the student body, regularly holds events called “Open Campus Recruiting,” in which companies are invited to the campus to hold briefing sessions for foreign students and conduct recruitment tests.

During the 2007 academic year, there were about 380 sessions of the Open Campus Recruiting program.

On the other hand, Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo started to offer job-hunting support to its foreign students in October last year. The private institution has asked for help from temporary staffing agency Pasona Inc., which provides advice to these students regarding how to fill in application forms and how to behave during interviews.

In addition to these two examples, many other institutions now offer special job-hunting seminars for foreign students.

In recent years, some companies have been willing to hire more and more foreign students. Starting with new recruits for the 2008 fiscal year, Lawson Inc., for example, has been hiring foreign students under the same working conditions as their Japanese colleagues. For the fiscal year starting this month, the major convenience store chain has about 40 foreign recruits.

“We value diversity [in our workforce],” a Lawson official says of why the company has hired an increasing number of foreign students.

Diversity in the workplace is thought to encourage people to respect different values that come from differing nationality, gender and age. This is also said to enhance their creativity.

“If companies can provide foreign employees with comfortable working systems,” says Masato Gunji, senior researcher at the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training, “it would become easier for them to hire other types of workers such as homemakers and the elderly.”

(Apr. 9, 2009)

The Education, Science and Technology Ministry on Thursday released details of two textbooks that passed its 2008 screening process, including a controversial history textbook.

The textbook in question was written by members of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform. The text, “Chugakko Shakai Rekishi” (Middle School Social Studies and History), is published by the Jiyu Sha publishing house.

The society switched publishers and resubmitted the textbook to the government for screening after their previous publisher, Fusosha Publishing Inc., declined to continue publishing their earlier textbook, “Atarashii Rekishi Kyokasho” (New History Textbook), after it stirred up controversy over the historical perspective from which it depicted World War II.

According to ministry officials, the society’s first draft of the textbook said the Imperial Japanese Army “was unable to prevent improper killing and abuse” of prisoners of war and civilians during the war.

The ministry told the society it had to give an account of the serious damage and hardship Japan inflicted on other countries during the war. The sentence was later edited to say that Japan had “committed improper murders and abuse, and caused great damage.”

The society criticizes history textbooks used till now, saying they are based on a “masochistic” view of history.

Nearly 300 parts of the textbook have been singled out for correction, and all have been edited as part of the screening process, ministry officials said.

The first draft submitted this time was very similar to the one submitted for screening in the academic year 2004 and published by Fusosha. In terms of content and page layout, the new book is almost the same as the history textbook previously published by Fusosha. The new textbooks may be used in the next academic year if boards of education adopt them.

The reason only two applications were screened this year probably reflects a planned renewal of school textbooks under new teaching guidelines that will be implemented for middle schools in the 2012 academic year. This means many textbook publishing companies have put off their submissions for textbook screening until later.

Another textbook that passed the ministry’s screening is the high school text. “Seibutsu II” (Biology II), published by Tokyo Shoseki Co., used in high schools.

No textbooks failed the screening, ministry officials added.

(Apr. 10, 2009)


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