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A Japanese Education in Tennessee March 12, 2007

Posted by David in Japan.
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I came across a March 12, 2007 Japan Times article which mentioned the closing of a “Japan authorized” high school in Sweetwater, Tennessee. After 20 years the school is closing its doors “in the wake of a fall in the number of Japanese expatriates.”

“At its peak in mid-1990s, the co-ed boarding school (Tennessee Meiji Gakuin) had about 200 students, mainly children of employees posted in the United States by Japanese companies.”

According to The Knoxville News Sentinel (10-03-2007) “the boarding school… was housed at the 144-acre site of a former military academy.” That particular story goes on to say that enrolment “dropped after Sept. 11. when visas became harder to obtain and more Japanese parents were reluctant to send their children overseas.”

Although there is nothing extra-ordinary about this story, it serves as a reminder that it wasn’t that long ago when Japan’s economy was “on a very good high”, and Japanese businesses were popping up everywhere throughout North-America.

These days Japan’s economy isn’t like it was back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, but after a long period of stagnation it is indeed recovering. In Tennessee alone “more than 160 Japanese companies, including Nissan Motor Corp., employ about 40,000 Tennesseans.” As a matter of fact, “in January the Japanese government announced its plans to move its long-time consulate from New Orleans to cover Japanese interests in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.”

If everything keeps going well for Japan’s economy it could, one day, be flying high as it did a decade or two ago… Maybe higher.

Who knows, in a few years, there may even be a need to re-open Tennessee Meiji Gakuin.  Japanese kids could once again be getting their Japan-approved secondary school education in the state of Tennessee.

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