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Nihonjin gakkō (日本人学校, lit. School for Japanese people), also called Japanese school, is a full-day school outside Japan intended primarily for Japanese citizens living abroad. It is an expatriate school designed for children whose parents are working on diplomatic, business, or education missions overseas and have plans to repatriate to Japan.
The schools offer exactly the same curriculum used in public elementary and junior high schools in Japan, so when the students go back to Japan, they will not fall behind in the class. Some schools accept Japanese citizens only; others welcome Japanese speaking students regardless of citizenship.
They are accredited by Japan's Ministry of education and science and receive funding from the Japanese government. There were 85 schools worldwide as of April 2006, and all of these schools provide English classes in the primary education.
Every school hires teachers from Japan on a two- to three-year assignment, but they also hire people from the local community as Japanese-speaking teachers, English and other language instructors, administrative assistants, gardeners, janitors and security guards.
Schools that partially offer the nihonjin gakkō's curriculum after school hours or on weekends are sometimes called Japanese Schools, too, but strictly speaking they are categorized as hoshū jugyō kō or hoshūkō, a supplementary school.
As Japan recovered after World War II, increased numbers of Japanese international schools serving elementary and junior high school levels opened around the world. The first postwar Japanese overseas school was the Japanese School of Bangkok, which opened in 1956.
The Ministry of Education of Japan, as of 1985, encouraged the development of nihonjin gakkō, in developing countries, while it encouraged the opening of hoshū jugyō kō, or part-time supplementary schools, in developed countries. However, some Japanese parents in developed countries, in addition to those in developing countries, campaigned for the opening of nihonjin gakkō in developed countries due to concern about the education of their children.
In 1971, there were 22 nihonjin gakkō worldwide. During the postwar rapid economic growth in the 1950s to early 1970s and the Japanese asset price bubble in the 1980s, the country gained economic power and many sogo shoshas and major industries sent their employees all over the world. That was when many nihonjin gakko were established to educate their children in Asia, Europe, Middle East, North, Central and South America. The number of nihonjin gakkō increased to 80 in 1986 with the opening of Japanese schools in Barcelona and Melbourne. As of May of that year 968 teachers from Japan were teaching at these Japanese schools worldwide. That month 15,811 students were enrolled in those schools. The number of nihonjin gakkō increased to 82 by 1987.
In the early 1980s, 40% of Japanese national children living in Europe attended nihonjin gakkō, while almost 95% of Japanese national children living abroad in Asia attended nihonjin gakkō.
Many Japanese parents abroad sent their children to Japan to attend high school after they completed the junior high school abroad, or leaving the children behind, so they could become accustomed to the difficult Japanese university entrance systems. Toshio Iwasaki, the editor of the Journal of Japanese Trade & Industry, stated that this reason inhibited the development of Japanese senior high schools in other countries. The first overseas international schools that served the senior high school level were the Rikkyo School in England, gaining senior high school level classes after 1975, and the Lycée Seijo in France, which opened in 1986. By 1991 Japanese international senior high schools were in operation in the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany, Denmark, and Ireland.
By 1991 many overseas Japanese high schools were accepting students who were resident in Japan, and some wealthier families in Japan chose to send their children to Japanese schools abroad instead of Japanese schools in Japan.
With its rapidly growing economy, China is an exception. Schools in Beijing, Shanghai and  have been expanding and new schools had founded in Dalian, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Qingdao, Suzhou since 1991.
By 2004 there were 83 Japanese day schools in 50 countries.
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Nihonjin gakkō use Japanese as their language of instruction. The curriculum is approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) so that students may easily adjust upon returning to Japan. For foreign language classes, each school usually teaches English and, if different, a major local language of the country. Most nihonjin gakkō do not admit people lacking Japanese citizenship. This practice differs from those of American and British international schools, which do admit students of other nationalities. Nihonjin gakkō usually use the Japanese academic calendar instead of those of their host countries.
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As of 2005–2007, parents of Japanese nationality residing in the United States and Europe, as well as other industrialized and developed regions, generally prefer local schools over nihonjin gakkō, while Japanese parents in Asia and the Middle East prefer nihonjin gakkō.
In 2003 11,579 Japanese students living in Asia (outside Japan) attended full-time Japanese schools, making up more than 70% of the Japanese students in Asia. In Oceania, 194 Japanese pupils attended full-time Japanese schools, making up 7.7% of the total Japanese students in Oceania. In North America there were 502 students at full-time Japanese schools, making up 2.4% of Japanese pupils on that continent. As of 2007, there were a total of three nihonjin gakkō on the U.S. mainland recognized by MEXT.
- The parents prefer for their children to receive education in English;
- Nihonjin gakkō have only elementary and middle schools, grades first through ninth, which are mandatory in Japan. Some schools offer a kindergarten program as well as a high school program, but they are uncommon. Children educated in an English-speaking environment will be able to continue their education where they live with their parents. Those who choose not to participate in the local education system will need to pass an entrance exam to enroll in a boarding school in Japan or one of the seven (as of October 2006) Shiritsu zaigai kyōiku shisetsu (私立在外教育施設), Japanese boarding schools worldwide.
- The parents' desire to acculturate their children;
- Many private and public Japanese schools have become flexible and accept expatriate students via a separate admissions system, or by offering exams in English.
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Nihonjin gakkō tend to be in the following types of areas in the world:
- Those with a large Japanese temporary resident population, such as London or New York City.
- Those where English is not the official language, such as Düsseldorf, São Paulo, Mexico City, Lima, Dubai, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.
As of October 2006:
Asia (except the Middle East)
- Mainland China
- Hong Kong
- Republic of China (Taiwan)
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
Middle East (not including Africa)
- See Africa
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
- United States[note 1]
Central and South America
- Asociación Cultural Japonesa (ボゴタ日本人学校; "Japanese School of Bogotá")
- Costa Rica
- Escuela Japonesa en Guatemala (グァテマラ日本人学校)
- Colegio Japones en Asunción (アスンシオン日本人学校)
- Czech Republic
- See Middle East
- United Kingdom
- South Africa
- Guam (U.S.)
- See North America
- Lagos Japanese School (ラゴス日本人学校) - Designated and certified on March 1, 1975 (Showa 50), revoked March 29, 2002 (Heisei 14)
Asia (excluding Middle East):
- Calcutta Japanese School (カルカタ日本人学校) - Designated on March 30, 1976 (Showa 51), certified on December 18, 1992 (Heisei 4), revoked March 29, 2002 (Heisei 14).
- Medan Japanese International School or Medan Japanese School (メダン日本人学校, Indonesian: Sekolah Internasional Jepang, Medan)
- It was affiliated with the Japanese Consulate General in Medan, and occupied a 481.88-square-metre (5,186.9 sq ft) building on a 1,880-square-metre (20,200 sq ft) property. It originated as a supplementary school in the consulate's library that opened in April 1972 (Showa 49). A committee to establish a new day school was created in 1978 (Showa 54), and in January 1979 (Showa 55) the school remodeled an existing building for this purpose. The school opened in April 1979. It closed in March 1998.
- Medan Japanese International School or Medan Japanese School (メダン日本人学校, Indonesian: Sekolah Internasional Jepang, Medan)
Middle East (excluding Africa):
- Baghdad Japanese School (バグダッド日本人学校)
- Kuwait Japanese School (クウエイト日本人学校)
- Beirut Japanese School (ベイルート日本人学校) - Designated February 10, 1972 (Showa 47), revoked March 29, 2002 (Heisei 14)
- Former Yugoslavia
- Belgrade Japanese School (ベオグラード日本人学校)
- Escola Japonesa de Belém (ベレーン日本人学校) - Designated on February 25, 1977 (Showa 52), Certified on December 18, 1992 (Heisei 4), revoked March 29, 2002 (Heisei 14).
- Escola Japonesa de Belo Horizonte (ベロ・オリゾンテ日本人学校), a.k.a. Instituto Cultural Mokuyoo-Kai Sociedade Civil - Santa Amélia, Paumplha, Belo Horizonte - Designated on February 6, 1982 (Showa 57), Certified on December 18, 1992 (Heisei 4), revoked March 29, 2002 (Heisei 14).
- Escola Japonesa de Vitória (ヴィトリア日本人学校) - Designated February 10, 1981 (Showa 56), Certified December 18, 1992 (Heisei 4), revoked March 29, 2002 (Heisei 14)
- There are additional schools which are not classified as nihonjin gakkō by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; they are instead shiritsu zaigai kyōiku shisetsu (overseas branches of Japanese private schools): Nishiyamato Academy of California and Keio Academy of New York, as well as the defunct schools Seigakuin Atlanta International School and Tennessee Meiji Gakuin - Also these are day schools neither authorized nor designated by MEXT; therefore they are not nihonjin gakkō nor are they shiritsu zaigai kyōiku shisetsu: Japanese Children's Society (a.k.a. New York Ikuei Gakuen) (in Japanese) (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey) and Sundai Michigan International Academy (Novi, Michigan)
- Ben-Ari, Eyal and John Clammer. Japan in Singapore: Cultural Occurrences and Cultural Flows. Routledge, 4 July 2013. ISBN 1136116184, 9781136116186. page unstated (Google Books PT34). "The biggest Japanese school in the world is in Singapore."
- Hui, Tsu Yun. Japan and Singapore: A Multidisciplinary Approach. McGraw-Hill Education (Asia), 2006. ISBN 0071256237, 9780071256230. p. 278. "The Japanese school in Singapore has become the largest school of its kind outside Japan..."
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- Goodman, Roger. "The changing perception and status of kikokushijo." In: Goodman, Roger, Ceri Peach, Ayumi Takenaka, and Paul White (editors). Global Japan: The Experience of Japan's New Immigrant and Overseas Communities. Routledge, June 27, 2005. p. 179. "Official policy (see Monbusho, 1985) was that Nihonjingakko should be set up in developing countries, hoshuko in the developed world."
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- (in Catalan) Fukuda, Makiko. "El Col·legi Japonès de Barcelona: un estudi pilot sobre les ideologies lingüístiques d'una comunitat expatriada a Catalunya" (Archive). Treballs de sociolingüística catalana > 2005: 18 (2004). See profile at Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO). p. 218: "El col·legi Japones de Barcelona, així com els altres col.legis japonesos, realitzen l'ensenyament de la llengua "local" (per a ells aquesta és el castella) i de l'angles a mes del japones. "
- Pang, Ching Lin (彭靜蓮, Pinyin: Péng Jìnglián; Catholic University of Leuven Department of Anthropology). "Controlled internationalization: The case of kikokushijo from Belgium." International Journal of Educational Research. Volume 23, Issue 1, 1995, Pages 45–56. Available online 20 January 2000. DOI 10.1016/0883-0355(95)93534-3. CITED: p. 48. "The curriculum of the Nihonjin Gakko[...]One particular feature, which sets it apart from other “international” American or British schools, is that it has only Japanese pupils and students."
- Fischel, William A. Making the Grade: The Economic Evolution of American School Districts. University of Chicago Press, 15 November 2009. ISBN 0226251314, 9780226251318. p. 132.
- Mizukami, Tetsuo. The sojourner community [electronic resource]: Japanese migration and residency in Australia (Volume 10 of Social sciences in Asia, v. 10). BRILL, 2007. ISBN 9004154795, 9789004154797. p. 139.
- Mizukami, Tetsuo. The sojourner community [electronic resource]: Japanese migration and residency in Australia (Volume 10 of Social sciences in Asia, v. 10). BRILL, 2007. ISBN 9004154795, 9789004154797. p. 138.
- Mizukami, Tetsuo. The sojourner community [electronic resource]: Japanese migration and residency in Australia (Volume 10 of Social sciences in Asia, v. 10). BRILL, 2007. ISBN 9004154795, 9789004154797. p. 138-139.
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No. 205B, Street Lum, Group 5, Village Toek Thla, Sangkat Toek Thla, Khan Sen Sok, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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- Ávila Tàpies, Rosalía (University of Kyoto) and Josefina Domínguez Mujica (Universidad de Las Palmas). "The Canary Islands in the Japanese Imaginary: The Analysis of Three Contemporary Narratives" (Spanish: Canarias en el imaginario japonés: el análisis de tres narrativas contemporáneas; Page archive, PDF archive). Anuario de Estudios Atlánticos ISSN 0570-4065, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (2011), no. 57, pp. 525-56. Received 26 May 2010. Accepted 30 June 2010. English abstract available. CITATION, p. 528 (PDF 4/38): "El colegio japonés «rasuparumasu nihonjin gakko-» en Tafira Baja, abierto en el año 1973 (octubre) como el tercer colegio japonés más antiguo de Europa y el primero de España, se cerró definitivamente en el 2000 (marzo)."
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