Hakubun Shimomura, Japan’s Education Minister, revealed governmental plans to amend an existing educational ministerial decree so that local governments may open their schools for an additional day each week on Saturdays. The current law prevents schools and educational establishments from opening on Saturdays, except in ‘special cases’ a term so vaguely defined that many schools are already taking advantage of this loophole and teaching on the weekends. This ministerial amendment is thought to have been proposed in order to encourage competition between schools. If passed, the educational ordinance would make it possible for any public school in Japan to hold Saturday classes, should they so choose.
Another reason the government’s proposition of Saturday classes is so that all schools can accommodate their timetable to the increased number of hours required of the national curriculum, which was raised from 35 to 70 between 2011 and 2012 across all public elementary and high schools in Japan. Many schools were unable to adapt their timetables to this increased number of hours without running over onto the weekend as well.
The educational ministerial ordinance is likely to come into effect in 2014.
Sources include The Japan Daily Press and Japan Today