Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Macron takes his campaign to London

Read more

THE DEBATE

Rogue Nation: North Korea and the death of Kim Jong-Nam (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Rogue Nation: North Korea and the death of Kim Jong-Nam (part 2)

Read more

FOCUS

Migrant crisis: How Italy is training Libyan coast guards

Read more

ENCORE!

Slapstick, stunts and a sweet 'pas de deux' in the streets of Paris

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Turkey is the biggest jail for journalists in the world'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'The Evolution of the Presidential Portrait'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A sweeter pill to swallow: Fillon unveils revamped healthcare policies

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

1.5 million fewer tourists visited Paris in 2016

Read more

FOCUS

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2014-02-06

Japan's North Korean schools and university

© Hoshu, via Wikipedia: a North Korean classroom in Tokyo

Schools in Japan with close links to North Korea have been protesting Tokyo’s decision to stop giving these educational establishments financial aid. FRANCE 24 reports from these bastions of the "Hermit Kingdom" in Japan.

Most of the students at these schools were born in Japan. But, like their parents, they show unwavering support for the North Korean communist regime.

Even if it is difficult to pin down an exact number, experts estimate that around 150 000 residents in Japan are supporters of the Pyongyang government.

Their families came from the Korean peninsula to Japan, either voluntarily or as forced labour, when Korea was a Japanese colony up until 1945.

Over the years, their presence in Japan has given rise to a handful of pro-North Korean schools, and even one university.

Japan withdraws funding

The year got off to a tense start for the students of these establishments. Around 6,000 demonstrators gathered in the centre of Tokyo to protest the exclusion of certain high schools from government subsidies through the national tuition waiver programme.

All of the excluded schools have historical ties to North Korea.

"We gather today to say in unison “No to this outright discrimination, to our exclusion and to the deprivation of our rights," says Il Song, a student at the North Korea University, told FRANCE 24.

Japanese nationalists, meanwhile, lined the road to insult and mock these supporters of the closed and autocratic North Korean State, which many in Japan consider to be an existential enemy.

"If you don't want to be treated differently, leave Japan and go back to North Korea," shouted one nationalist heckler.

Supporters of Pyongyang in Japan

North Korean schools in Japan receive about two millions dollars a year from Pyongyang. But reduced subsidies to the schools all over Japan - and changing generational priorities - mean those schools, and Korea University, are losing students every year.

The flag of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea - North Korea's official name - flutters above the recreation ground at this Tokyo university, where teachers and lecturers aim to imbue the 700 students with what they consider to be North Korean values.

Just as in North Korea, portraits of the country's deceased leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il are omnipresent (see picture) in classrooms and dormitories.

Japan’s colonial past in Korea

Korea University is frequently accused of acting as a Japanese base for the North Korean government and for spreading its ideology.

Critics say its curriculum is often overtly anti-Japanese, although lecturers insist they are simply telling the truth about Japan’s colonial past.

"In Japan, a lot of people have the wrong idea about us. They think just because we are teaching our students about the colonial period in Korea, that we are teaching them to be anti-Japanese," said literature professor Jong Ho, Kim.

By FRANCE 24

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-02-21 Europe

Migrant crisis: How Italy is training Libyan coast guards

In a bid to crack down on human trafficking in the Mediterranean, the European Union and Libya are working together. As part of the EU's operation Sophia, officers in the Libyan...

Read more

2017-02-20 Americas

North Dakota: Sioux tribe stands firm against pipeline project

In the US state of North Dakota, members of the Sioux tribe of Standing Rock have been defying oil companies and authorities for several months. They want them to scrap a plan...

Read more

2017-02-17 Americas

A closer look at former Colombian president Uribe's murky past

Colombia recently reached a historic peace deal with FARC rebels, but that's not to everyone's liking. In parliament, the peace process has a strong adversary in Alvaro Uribe,...

Read more

2017-02-16 Americas

Islamophobia on the rise in Quebec

On January 29, six Muslims were shot dead at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada by a far-right extremist. But the shocking attack did not come as a complete surprise to the local...

Read more

2017-02-15 Poland

Polish military hit by exodus of top generals

US President Donald Trump complains that NATO members don't pay their way, but Poland is one of only five nations that does meet its commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on...

Read more