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Description of the Japan Educational System Essay

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Updated: Sep 13th, 2021


Education system in Japan before and at the period of war was based on German education system characterized by high schools and university colleges purposely for educating students after completion of basic primary education (Vogel, 1971). Later on, after the occupation of Japan by the America and her allies, educational system was transformed to incorporate US educational system (Vogel, 1971). This system constituted of three junior schools and one senior school. In the same period, a repeal of the imperial Rescript was done and the university education was formally recognized (Japan Echo, 1998). Further, the issue of Kanji was resolved and the Japanese educational system was reorganized to allow for Toyo Kanji as well as the altering of orthography to reflect the spoken usage (Vogel, 1971).

Postwar period in Japan was characterized by rise in education levels; extension of democratic rights such as improvement of women status as well as the modernization of business management. By this time, American educational system had left a permanent mark on the content of Japan’s educational, one reason being the attitude of Japanese leadership adopting policies geared at Americanizing Japan (Ralph C, 2003).

Postwar problems of Japan education system

The initial problem of Japan postwar educational system was, the extent to which Japanese acknowledged the fundamental philosophy behind the American education system which was being introduced in all spheres of the life (Haward, 2002). The postwar educational system geared toward transforming youths into individuals, who their prime aim in life was to get jobs and make carriers in Japan’s big organizations. This was different from the earlier system, whereby from kindergarten the system focused on preparing the students for college and university entrance exams (Ralph C, 2003).

Consequently, this led the scholar to think that the sole objective of education is to acquire the most effective technique to ensure future status. The result was mass production of dehumanized machine-like technicians (Vogel, 1971). This deviated completely with the old system of elite school in prewar period where schools were places for molding character. This is because the old system emphasized on educating the students on how to express themselves, take risks and consider others as well as how to take responsibility for one’s actions (Vogel, 1971).

The postwar Japan educational system abandoned this old system and in its place introduced an American educational system which in effect produced some remarkable influence (Ryoichi K, 1999). The two systems of education that is the Japan educational system and the American educational system looked similar, but the philosophy on which American educational system was based was not observed or understood by Japanese people (Ryoichi K, 1999).

This was exemplified by the neglection of the Japanese people of the concepts such as American’s full board prep school system. Further, the system attached more significant to liberal arts and free thinking which was not fairing well with Japanese populace (Richard L, 1988). Additionally, programs which entail business executives examining and discussing human values through readings of classic thoughts attracted little attention from Japanese people (Japan Echo, 1998).

The post-war Japanese education system was narrowed to educate professionals who excelled in how to do it environment instead of professionals who are able to find and address the challenges of how to do and why to do it.

How have the problems changed with time

To this date, Japan educational system has made some necessary transformation to a system that educates students in a broader sense with rich human and educational experience. The new Japan educational system produces individuals equipped with both knowledge and skills. This as in effect enabled the system produce individuals who are capable of finding and addressing the challenges of what to do and why do it.

In the modern Japanese educational system a change has occurred in the middle and high school education which are significant force in forming the character and thinking process in individuals (Christopher P, 2001). The trend toward mass education at the university level is now not being accepted and the system has been redesigned to look as a way of academic achievement and the breadth of appropriate to higher education.

The current Japan educational system is characterized by firm beliefs as well as wealth skepticism characterized by an unwillingness to accept the established order uncritically.

To this date, the Japan educational system has broadened its visions away from its American -centered standing and as such it has incorporated Japanese perspectives (Christopher P, 2001). Overall, Japan has begun to seriously think about its future relationship with Americans and how to develop that relationship. The postwar Japanese educational system problems have changed over the time and the system now as in effect incorporate a Japanese perspective.

The changes in the Japan educational system as brought remarkable changes in the cultural aspects of Japanese people. As result to changes in Japan education system some of American core beliefs, values and attitudes have been incorporated in Japanese culture.

My view on Japan educational system

The current education system in Japan began its formulation as a school system in 1872 (Ryoichi K, 1999). When Japan was occupied by United States and its allies the system underwent several transformations which as result led to incorporation of the US educational system in the Japan educational system.

In 1947, the 6-3-3-4 educational system was adopted in Japan following the enactment of fundamental law of education and the school education law of 1947 (Haward, 2002). Later, in 1948 Upper secondary schools were initiated in Japan educational system. That is, after pre- school education the students start formal education which constitutes of 6 years consistent education in elementary school, 3 years in lower secondary school, 3 years in the upper secondary schools and 3 year in the high schools. The upper secondary schools offered both full-time and part-time courses and later in 1961, correspondence programs were incorporated in the Japan educational system.

In 1949, the new system for universities and colleges were started whereby junior college system was formulated on provisional basis in 1950 and later on permanent basis in 1964 (Vogel, 1971). In 1962, technology colleges were started purposely to provide lower secondary school graduates with a five year consistent education. At first, these colleges were offering courses only in engineering technology and mercantile marine studies, however they later started to offer training in other disciplines. The modern Japanese educational system follows this system. Perhaps, there are some a few modifications but the system is based on the above framework.

In addition to normal educational system students and pupils in need of special care, such as those with disabilities are educated in special classes or at least in special classes at elementary schools or lower secondary schools depending on the nature and the extend of the disability (Ralph C, 2003).

Basic education is compulsory in Japan until a child reaches the age of 15 years (Christopher P, 2001). This is in order to provide each individual with basic living techniques such as writing and reading which in essence facilitates the progression an individual to high level of education.

A recent research effort indicates that 90% Japanese student population complete and that 40% of the entire populace complete college and university education. Currently, the Japan education educational system is undergoing numerous reviews to keep in line with the modern technology advancements. These reviews geared toward incorporating modern teaching techniques among many other issues. Currently, Japan is one of the leading countries in the field of technology and especially in the information and communication fields. The can be attribute to the effects of the education system in play.


Christopher P. Hood (2001) Japanese Education Reform: Nakasone’s Legacy, London: Routledge.

E. F. Vogel (1971). “Examination Hell”, in Japan’s New Middle Class, The Salary Man and His Family in a Tokyo Suburb, University of California Press. Pp.40-67.

Haward W. French, (2002) ‘Educators Try to Tame Japan’s Blackboard Jungles’, New York Times.

Ralph Cassel, (2003) Class Room Crisis: Though Talk about Micky Mouse Schools’, Asahi Shimbun, “Why can’t little Taro Think?” The Economist, 1990. pp. 21-23.

Ryoichi Kawakami, (1999) ‘”School Collapse” A Report from a Junior High School’, Foreign Press Center Japan.

‘Crisis in the Schools’, JAPAN ECHO Vol.25, No.3, June 1998.

Richard Lynn (1988) ‘Why Johny can’t read, but Yoshio can’, National Review, v40 n21 pp. 40-42.

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