And forthwith, down to the serious biz of blogging. Enough of the Zquirks.
From Japan Indymedia:
Free Education! / An Open Letter to Japan Student Services Organization
On 26th January 2009, members of "The Association of Blacklisted Students of Tokyo" (burakkurisuto no kai in tokyo) visited the office of the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) in Ichigaya, Tokyo, with the aim of demanding the withdrawal of the "Blacklisting Plan" aimed at those who cannot afford to repay their scholarship loans. They also demanded the realization of providing true scholarships as opposed to State-sponsored student loans [under the name of "scholarships"]. As of this writing, they are still waiting for an answer from JASSO.
Below is the Open Letter addressed to JASSO.
26th January 2009
To Mr. Chisato KAJIYAMA
Japan Student Services Organization
This letter presents a petition against the use of credit collection agencies for loan delinquency and a demand for the provision of true scholarships.
In December 2008, the independent legal person JASSO announced a policy of reporting payment delinquency to credit collection agencies. We understand that JASSO has also begun receiving from student borrowers letters of agreement to this effect.
We cannot accept such policies (so-called "Blacklisting"). We demand the immediate cessation of such foolishness seldom found in the history of education. In addition, we ask that student aid known as "scholarships" should live up to its name, namely not as loans, but rather as unconditional disbursements designed to cover the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses.
Our demand is neither ridiculous nor unrealistic. As JASSO’s own reports have shown, nearly half of the delinquent borrowers are from a low income category. If JASSO were to provide such information to credit collection agencies, it would effectively create the conditions of social exclusion against low-income borrowers. For example, many real estate and rental agencies in Japan nowadays consider past credit history. It is quite likely that JASSO’s policy will result in the appearance of more and more people unable even to rent a lodging. Would this turn of events really be "extremely meaningful from the educational point of view" as your agency has asserted? Since the "blacklisting" of students effectively amounts to turning students into "securities" [a form of collateral], it is hard to see how this could possibly be condoned from an educational point of view.
Around the globe, the term "scholarship" generally refers to the provision of tuition, fees and living stipend that must be rigorously distinguished from student loans. Such scholarships are the norm in Europe. Even in the United States, whose case is exceptional, student loans occupy only half of total student financial aid system. Nevertheless, the current situation, in which the scholarships disbursed by JASSO—a public entity—are overwhelmingly student loans, is a highly unusual departure from the international standard.
The Japanese higher education system has been solicited by the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights to ratify Article 13 (the right to education without payment). It goes without saying that higher education should be open to all. The Japanese government continues to this day to ignore this solicitation, but we think if JASSO were to provide tuition scholarships it would be seen as a realistic solution. Considered a matter of common sense among the developed nations, such a policy is certainly feasible financially.
A society cannot be prosperous with a large number of indebted students. The creeping development of student loans and tuition increases constitutes an abnormal situation. Students should be free from the yoke of money. Yet in spite of the need [for education] to enhance their capacity and abilities, JASSO’s policies take that possibility away from students. We demand an immediate halt to "Blacklisting" and call for the disbursement of scholarships without condition to provide for tuition, fees, and living stipends.
And here’s a link to the Japanese version