This article discusses the development of the characteristics of the national scholarship system in postwar Japan. The Japanese national scholarship system for undergraduate and graduate students has two characteristics : first, the system provides only student loans, not grants; second, repayment is wavered if recipients work in certain occupations after graduation. These characteristics existed until 1965, and this article discusses those that influenced the policy-making process from 1945 to 1965.
The Japanese Scholarship Foundation (JSF), the national scholarship organization, was founded 1944. At that time, the JSF promoted the ideal of "ikuei": which meant that at first the scholarship loan system targeted a small number of poor but brilliant students. But after WWII, the ideal and the system changed to "shougaku", which meant many more students were offered scholarships. The two ideals meant there was a difference in the number of scholarships offered and in the amount of money spent on the scheme.
From 1945 to 1950, a national council for students' affairs tried to have the national student scholarship system extended. In 1948, a report by the Committee for Student Welfare, proposed the introduction of the scholarship grants system, the temporary loan system, and an increase in both the number of recipients and the value of the scholarships. Some of these proposals were adopted, but did not deliver a grants system. Another proposal from the Council for Student Welfare (this council is a separate to the committee referred to above) was the exemption from the repayment if the scholarship student became a teacher at an elementary or junior high school. This repayment exemption system was introduced in 1950, but the changes did not mean a revision was made to the law. It was not until 1953 that the law relating to the Japanese scholarship foundation was revised, and the repayment exemption system defined more clearly.
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) at first welcomed an increase in the number of recipients and in the value of scholarships, but subsequently it changed its position and insisted that the scholarship system be "ikuei" not "shogaku.": i.e., it was not intended for students generally.
From the late 1950s to 1965, two characteristics of the national scholarship system were established, and attention is paid to four processes.
First, in 1958 the law was revised and the new scholarship system was introduced. It provided special loans to outstanding students. This new system introduced the ideal of "ikuei" and was retained when the law was revised in 1984.
Secondly, in early 1960 the law was revised two times to widen exemptions for repayment of the loans. These changes not only targeted students who would become elementary school and junior high school teachers but also high school and kindergarten teachers. There was some argument in the Diet about revising the law and members of the Diet demanded that it be extended to other types of teachers like nursery school teachers etc. But, the Ministry of Education (MoE) insisted that the recipients be restricted to teachers at formal regular schools, such as kindergartens, elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools.
Thirdly, during this period it was pointed out in the mass media that the repayment rate was very low and this posed a problem for the Diet. Henceforth the MoE and the JSF took measures to ensure that more loans were repaid. The basis for such an argument was that scholarships comprised a "loan" system.
Fourthly, in 1961 the MoF rejected a proposal by the MoE that it introduce a new grant system for doctoral graduate students. Because of the repayment exemption this system had the same effect. The Japanese feature of the scholarship system was completed by this process.
This article argues that the characteristics of the national scholarship system came about as part of an historic process. But what kind of problems arose in relation to this starship system after the 1960s? This is next problem that needs to be solved.