Japanese schools are struggling to accommodate English-speaking students amid rising concerns about language- and culture-related bullying, the latest government statistics show.
In Japan, English-language schools have been hit hardest by the rise of bullying in recent years.
A survey by the Japan Education Research Institute found that the number of students taking English classes fell by 3.5 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015, a drop of 3.4 per cent from the previous year.
The institute said the drop was the lowest recorded since 2009.
But the decline was due to students being forced to learn a new language after failing their English-only class at a previous school, which was the same school they attended in the past.
The institute also found that there were more students enrolled in English classes than ever before.
It reported that the numbers of students enrolled rose by 2.7 per cent to 7.6 million.
The government has responded by rolling back the English-as-a-second-language (ESL) requirement for high school students and introducing a new version of the national curriculum, known as the Japanese Language Arts (JLAT) curriculum.
While the JLAT was introduced last year to allow schools to offer English classes for the first time in the country, many students were left with little choice but to enroll in English courses.
A recent survey by The Japan Times showed that nearly 80 per cent of Japanese students and parents have no choice but do not want to give up their English classes.
The survey of 1,000 parents showed that half of those surveyed wanted to stop the compulsory English-and-Japanese classes and opt for a separate school if they could.
The data also showed that more than half of parents wanted to allow their children to take their English course at home, although that figure was higher among students who did not want the English class.
According to the survey, 43 per cent thought it would be easier to teach English to students with limited English skills compared to 30 per cent who thought it was a big burden.