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Will the International Baccalaureate Take Off in Japan?Iwasaki Kumiko

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program has emerged as a centerpiece of educational reforms designed to equip Japanese citizens for leadership roles in a global economy. But can Japan’s notoriously inflexible education system accommodate a curriculum designed in the West and taught in English?

One Hundred Bags of Rice: Investing in Japan’s FutureHosoda Haruko

Japan is currently undergoing a period of transformation that ranks alongside the Meiji Restoration and the changes that followed defeat in World War II as a defining moment in its modern history. Despite this, our university system still concentrates almost exclusively on the kind of practical skills that will be of immediate use to students once they enter the working world. As a result, many st…

Criticizing Youth Will Not Make Them Go AbroadAndrew Horvat

A report earlier this year that the number of Japanese students at US universities had dipped below 20,000 for the first time in a quarter century unleashed a flood of articles lamenting an alleged decline in interest among young Japanese in the world around them. One newspaper carried the headline “Students staying in Japan,” while a commentator writing earlier about the same phenomenon stated…

Anatomy of Japanese BullyingSugimori Shinkichi

School bullying takes on many forms and remains a pervasive aspect of youth around the world. In Japan, highly publicized incidents of bullying continue to shock society, with a government survey showing an ongoing increase in reported cases. Sugimori Shinkichi discusses the cultural and socioeconomic factors behind the epidemic and what adults can do to contain it.

Is Too Much Riding on the National Achievement Test?Hayakawa Nobuo

In April 2012, Japan’s national achievement test was held for the first time in two years. The examination was first introduced as a response to rising criticism of the “room-to-grow” educational policy, called yutori kyōiku in Japanese (yutori meaning “relaxed” or “pressure-free”). Critics of that policy argued that competition was a necessary ingredient for raising students’ academic performance…

Beyond the Myth of the Economic SuperpowerTanaka Naoki

As the Japanese struggle to formulate a viable growth strategy for the twenty-first century, economic analyst Tanaka Naoki urges them to forget everything they were told about the sources of Japanese economic supremacy during the years of rapid growth.

Thoughts on Martial Arts, Education, and ValuesKōno Yoshinori

A new guideline requiring martial arts instruction in Japanese junior high schools has provoked considerable controversy on safety grounds. Taking a historical and philosophical perspective, martial arts instructor and scholar Kōno Yoshinori challenges the very premises of the government’s policy.

MEXT: What is it Good For?Taniguchi Tomohiko

Japan's education policy is in a perennial state of disarray. Education from kindergarten to graduate school is subject to constant tinkering reforms by the cumbersomely named Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, or MEXT for short. Each new intervention adds to the mountain of incomprehensible and counterintuitive regulations, and with each reform the quality of educati…

The Debate over Japan’s Academic DeclineNakai Kōichi

Toward the end of the 1990s attention focused on falling academic level of Japan’s students. The debate touched off at that time led to the conclusion that the relaxed education standards called yutori kyōiku were to blame. Now that new standards are being implemented to roll back the yutori reforms, the time has come to look back at the course this debate has taken over the years.

University Reform and the New Basic Act on EducationYūki Akio

Yūki Akio, a civil service veteran with a scientific background, introduces the reform initiatives he has promoted since becoming president of a national university. He also discusses issues in elementary and secondary education, calling for a renewed focus on “education of the heart.”

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