Kuniko Katz's essays,
articles and letters to the editors
ideas for the sake of Japanese children overseas:
Scarsdale Inquirer, April 22, 1988
"Scarsdale as a Melting Pot," the Town Club's recent panel discussion on
international influences in the village, was indeed very timely and interesting.
The sensitivity of the community to its visiting international families was
evident throughout the meeting. I am writing this because some of the topics
discussed were identical to those that 1 have written about and discussed in the
Japanese media here and in Japan. 1 would like to share them with Scarsdale
I am Japanese, married to an American. We have lived in Scarsdale since we
bought a house here, and our children attend our local public school. My
first‑hand familiarity with the issues raised at the meeting comes from my
active participation in the Japanese and Scarsdale public school PTA's. I am
currently co‑chairman of the PTA Committee on New and International Families for
my children's school. Last year I was president of the parents' association of
the New Rochelle Japanese Weekend School and chairman of the Joint Committee of
Parents' Association Presidents and Administrators of the Weekend Schools. Over
4300 children attend these schools every Saturday. After completing my terms of
office, I wrote two open letters to then prime minister Nakasone of Japan which
were printed in the Yomiuri Shinmbun (A Tokyo‑based newspaper).
In these letters, I discussed the inevitability of having Japanese families with
school‑age children living abroad for a number of years as a result of the
increased presence of Japanese corporations in international markets. I opined
that the Japanese government has the responsibility of keeping abreast of the
educational experiences of Japanese children living outside Japan in order to
facilitate their re-entry into Japanese society and to make the best use of
their experiences in international living and education.
Because Japanese corporations, like those from other countries, locate their
offices in the economic centers of the world, a potential problem arises when a
relatively large number of Japanese speaking children enter a school district.
As a result of their numbers in a school, these children naturally tend to
cluster together and speak their own language despite the school's good
intentions and efforts. Consequently, some Japanese students fall behind their
Japanese educational development while not being able to reap all the potential
benefits of integrating themselves into the world of their American schoolmates.
Many have to divide their time to accommodate their American school studies,
tutors, supplementary studies in Japanese 'subjects and attending Japanese
school on Saturdays, to help them maintain educational parity with their peers
I suggested that the Japanese government encourage the private sector to create
full‑time, Japanese language schools where there are large numbers of Japanese
students. Thus, their parents have the option of placing their children in a
less. time‑consuming and more cohesively integrated educational environment in
which both Japanese and American studies will be presented, primarily in the
Japanese language. These Japanese schools would serve the same educational
function as do the already established privately funded English language schools
for American children who live with their families in Japan.
I haven't yet received any response to my open letters or to an article which I
published in Japan's Asahi Shimbun. Because of this, I wrote another article,
which was printed in last Friday's Yomiuri Shimbun, in which I asked Japanese
companies to consider three possible courses of action:
1. Study where their employees reside and which schools their children attend,
then suggest and assist incoming employees to find suitable housing in school
districts that do not have existing heavy concentrations of Japanese children.
This would afford the Japanese children a greater opportunity to learn English
and socially integrate with their American schoolmates.
2. Establish a multi-corporation funded institute to
offer financial grants for English-language learning
enrichment activities to enhance existing ESL, and bi‑lingual programs in
districts with large concentrations of Japanese pupils.
3. If it is not possible to avoid significant numbers of Japanese families
living within a school district, then the corporations should underwrite the
construction of a Japanese language school or assist already established
Japanese educational facilities in building filthier, K‑12 schools to meet the
needs of Japanese families in those areas. In our metropolitan area, the
Japanese Educational Institute has, for the past 26 years, organized, staffed
and maintained Japanese weekend schools. Thirteen years ago in Queens, the
institute established a full‑time school for children in grades five to nine
residing throughout the metropolitan area; this year the school began accepting
fourth graders, and, as was mentioned at the meeting, a well‑known private
educational institution will open a, Japanese high school in Purchase within the
next two years. I believe that only one fulltime elementary‑junior high school
and one high school will not be adequate and. that the corporations should
re-examine their responsibilities to the children of their employees.
For the sake of the children, I hope that my suggestions will be favourably
received by the Japanese government or the private sector, or that other courses
of action will be considered which will benefit those communities where large
numbers of Japanese reside.
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