School Grade and Age Structures in Japan

Poste date: Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The education system and structures vary from country to country. Here we have made an easy to understand comparison between the ages and grade structures in Japan and other countries. You can also find a list of what the ages for compulsory education in each country is and how to use that information choose a grade in Japan. Japan is also highly invested in early education, with young children often starting preschool around 2.5–3 years old. 

How to choose a school grade by age in Japan

In Japan, the school year starts in April and ends in March. Children who were born between April 2nd and April 1st of the following year are placed within the same grade. This could change your child's grade when you move to Japan from another country.

If your child has difficulty in accepting the Japanese grade which matches their age, you can also ask the school to change the grade to a lower grade. This usually happens when a foreign child enrolls in a Japanese public school because it is hard for them to understand everything in Japanese.

Compulsory education in Japan lasts from the 1st grade of Elementary School to the 3rd year of Junior High School (9 years in total). Foreign children/students can also have the option to enroll in a Japanese public school, however it's not mandatory that they participate in the Japanese compulsory education. International schools in Japan follow the system of each country however, Japanese public schools and private schools follow the same system. For more information, please read Japanese education system and which school is the best for your child.

Comparison between the Age and Grade Structures in Japan and other countries

*swipe or scroll to see the complete table

Age Japan Australia U.K. U.S.A.
   Apr - Mar Jan - Dec Sep - Aug Sep - Aug
3-4 Kindergarten Kindergarten Nursery Nursery
4-5 Kindergarten Kindergarten Reception Pre-K
5-6 ​Kindergarten Prep Year Year 1 Kindergarten
6-7 ​ELMN 1 Year 1 Year 2 Grade 1
7-8 ​ELMN 2 Year 2 Year 3 Grade 2
8-9 ​ELMN 3 Year 3 Year 4 Grade 3
9-10 ​ELMN 4 Year 4 Year 5 Grade 4
10-11 ​ELMN 5 Year 5 Year 6 Grade 5
11-12 ​ELMN 6 Year 6 Year 7 Grade 6
12-13 JHS 1 Year 7 Year 8 Grade 7
13-14 JHS 2 Year 8 Year 9 Grade 8
14-15 JHS 3 Year 9 Year 10 Grade 9
15-16 HS 1 Year 10 Year 11 Grade 10
16-17 HS 2 Year 11 Year 12 Grade 11
17-18 HS 3 Year 12 Year 13 Grade 12

Education System in Japan

School Year
From April to March
Grade Division
Children born between April 2nd and April 1st of the following year are placed in the same grade.
Elementary School
ELEM 1 to 6
Junior High School
JHS 1 to 3
High School
HS 1 to 3
Compulsory Education
From Elementary School to Junior High School

For more information please refer to Guidebook for Starting School published by Ministry of Education in Japan.

Education System in Australia

School Year
From the end of January or beginning of February to December
Primary School
Prep Year to Year 6 or 7
Secondary School
Year 7 to 10, or Year 8 to 10
Senior Secondary School
Year 11 to Year 12
Compulsory Education
From Prep Year to Year 12

For more details, please visit Australian Government - Department of Education and Training.

Education System in U.K.

School Year
From September to August
Primary School
Year 1 to 6
Secondary School
From Year 7 to 11
Secondary School or College
From Year 12 to Year 13
Compulsory Education
England: Age 5 years to 18 years
Scotland and Wales: Age 5 years to 16 years
Northern Ireland: Age 4 years to 16 years

For more details, please visit UK government information website.

Education System in U.S.A.

School Year
From September to August
Elementary School
Grade 1 to 5 (5-3-4)
Grade 1 to 6 (6-2-4) (6-6)
Grade 1 to 8 (8-4)
Junior High School
Grade 6 to 8 (5-3-4)
Grade 7 to 8 (6-2-4)
High School
Grade 9 to 12 (5-3-4) (6-2-4)
Grade 9 to 12 (8-4)
Grade 7 to 12 (6-6)
Compulsory Education
Age 5 years to 18 years (from Kindergarten to Grade 12 - K12)

* The system varies between different states. For more details, please refer to the department of education of the state you would like to know.

>> List of international schools in Tokyo

>> Primary - Elementary School System in Japan

>> Enrolling in a Japanese public school and materials you need to prepare

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