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Education Policy and Equal Opportunity in Japan

Education Policy and Equal Opportunity in Japan

Akito Okada
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 218
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  • Book Info
    Education Policy and Equal Opportunity in Japan
    Book Description:

    In many societies today, educational aims or goals are commonly characterized in terms of "equality," "equal opportunity," "equal access" or "equal rights," the underlying assumption being that "equality" in some form is an intelligible and sensible educational ideal. Yet, there are different views and lively debates about what sort of equality should be pursued; in particular, the issue of equality of educational opportunity has served as justification for much of the postwar restructuring of educational systems around the world. The author explores different interpretations of the concept of equality of educational opportunity in Japan, especially as applied to post-World War II educational policies. By focusing on the positions taken by key actors such as the major political parties, central administrative bodies, teachers' unions, and scholars, he describes how their concepts have developed over time and in what way they relate to the making of educational policy, especially in light of Japan's falling birthrate and aging society.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-268-9
    Subjects: Education, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Figures and Tables
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. IX-X)
  5. Notes on Style
    (pp. XI-XII)
  6. Japanese Terms
    (pp. XIII-XIV)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. XV-XVI)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    In many societies today, it is virtually impossible to read any document about educational aims or goals without encountering such phrases and terms as “equality,” “equal opportunity,” “equal access,” “equal rights” and so forth. The underlying assumption seems to be that “equality” in some form is an intelligible and sensible educational ideal, yet there are different views about what sort of equality should be pursued. The issue of equality in education has been greatly debated, especially that of equality of opportunity, which served as a justification for much of the post-World War II restructuring of educational systems around the world....

  9. 1 The Initial Application of Equal Opportunity to the Education System in Japan, 1868–1944
    (pp. 19-30)

    The concept of “equality of opportunity” emerged along with the establishment of a modern school system. The transition from a pre-industrial society where formal education was a prerogative of birth, wealth, and connection and was designed for upper-class positions, to a modern society in which access to and promotion within the education system depended upon academic ability, was regarded as a tremendous step forward by means of which justice and efficiency alike were expected to be achieved.¹ In attempting to perfect equality of educational opportunity, objectively-assessed academic ability seemed to be the self-evident selection criterion to replace social class, economic...

  10. 2 The Initial Position of the Concept of Equal Opportunity in Education, 1945–1950
    (pp. 31-53)

    In Japan, defeat in World War II and the American Occupation brought about a radical change in the post-war era. The hardships of the war and its ultimate futility prepared the Japanese people for a change of value orientations under the Occupation, and many enthusiastically endorsed democratization. Equality of opportunity was one of the main principles of the post-war education system, and it had been achieved through a series of debates on the process of the framing of Article 26 of the New Constitution and Article 3 of the FLE. The purpose of this chapter is to analyze the initial...

  11. 3 The Development of the New Perspective on Equal Opportunity in Education, 1951–1959
    (pp. 54-79)

    While the democratic reconstruction of post-war Japan led by the United States was being carried out, the international environment surrounding Japan was changing. In 1947, the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan were announced and anti-communist sentiment in the United States was on the rise. It was the beginning of the so-called Cold War. In 1950, the year in which the Korean War began, the Second U.S. Education Mission, led by Willard Earl Givens, visited Japan and submitted a report to the GHQ/SCAP. Praising the success of the democratization of post-war education reform over the previous five years, the report...

  12. 4 The Development of the Concept of Equal Opportunity under the High Economic Growth Period, 1960s–1970s
    (pp. 80-107)

    From the early 1960s to the mid 1970s, Japan experienced rapid changes not only economically but also socially. In 1960, Ikeda Hayato was appointed as Prime Minister by the party in power, the LDP. Ikeda completed the formation of his cabinet immediately and announced a policy aiming for high economic growth and development of human resources. It was the beginning of the socalled “heyday of economic development.” In fact, by the 1960s, Japan’s industrial output had skyrocketed to more than double the 1955 figure, making the country number four among capitalist nations. Educational policy during the 1960s and the early...

  13. 5 From Human Capital to Market Values in Education, 1980s–Present Day
    (pp. 108-138)

    The two decades that followed the EDC’s Report of 1963 were years of commitment to expansion of the education system as a part of the government’s policy of public welfare and investment in public service. The demand for education and for general access to various sorts of high schools backs up the assumptions of two different reports of the CCE on secondary education (1966 and 1971), which regarded investment in education as a condition of economic growth. These decades showed the value placed on the development of human capital by government intervention and on the maximization of the ability of...

  14. 6 Educational Reform and Equality of Opportunity in Contemporary Japan
    (pp. 139-159)

    Throughout previous chapters, this study has examined the historical formation of the concept of equality of opportunity, which has been applied to the educational policy in Japan, particularly from the end of World War II to the new millennium. This book is therefore an analysis, not of the history of educational expansion in its entirely, but of those significant educational policies that relate to the different interpretations that have been given to the term “equality of opportunity.”

    Recently, as is seen later in this chapter, there had been concerns that equality of educational opportunity has been lost and that this...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 160-180)

    This book attempts to analyze equal opportunity in Japan’s education system particularly in regards to the post-World War II era. This study looks at: the educational policies formed to create equal opportunity, as well as the various interpretations of how major political parties and teachers’ unions feel about the current changes in the school system. Its goal is to analyze how these various arguments formed over time.

    Examining the case of Japan has given us the opportunity to arrive at a fuller understanding of peculiarities in the process of the transformation of the concept. In its analysis, this study has...

  16. Appendix 1. The Japanese School System in 1937
    (pp. 181-182)
  17. Appendix 2. The Japanese School System in the 1980s
    (pp. 183-184)
  18. Appendix 3. The Japanese School System in 2008
    (pp. 185-186)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-194)
  20. Index
    (pp. 195-198)