Tag Archives: Japan


5,274 Teachers Took A Leave From Work Due to Mental Health Reasons

Nikkei Shinbun (December 24, 2012)

*Link in Japanese

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) reported that the number of public school teachers who took a leave from their schools due to mental health reasons in year 2011 was 5,274. While this number is down 2.4% since 2010, the number is still twice as many compared to 10 years ago. The main reason for the increasing depression is a decrease in a healthy work-life balance.To improve the working environment for teachers, the ministry proposed two plans. One is to assign experienced teachers to new teachers as mentors. The second is to implement training programs for returning teachers, who took a leave from their work, to facilitate their re-entry.

For more information:

Depression, mental illness among Japan’s public school teachers increasing

Teachers too busy to deal with struggling students



Osaka’s mayor, inspired by Thatcher, requires children to attend Saturday classes

Ida Torres, The Japan Daily Press (November 12, 2012)


Mayor Toru Hashimoto

Mayor Toru Hashimoto

Mayor Toru Hashimoto responded to a recent assault, attempted robbery, and several other violent acts allegedly committed by six youths, with a reinstatement of a mandatory educational guideline that was abolished over ten year ago. Students are to attend Saturday classes in addition to their Monday through Friday schedule. Five elementary schools have already reinstated the Mayor’s guideline and the remainder will have the guideline take force in April 2013. Hashimoto hopes that with the additional school day will not only benefit student academic achievement, but also prevent juvenile delinquency.

For more information:

Japan’s Osaka to restart Saturday classes for schools


Difficulty in Differenciating Good Teachers from the Rest in the New Teacher Evaluation System

Fukuashiba Elementary School in Ibaragi Japan

Shinano Mainichi Shinbun (September 11, 2012)

*original article in Japanese

Nagano prefecture in Japan began adopting a merit pay system based on the result of the teacher evaluation in 2011. The recent report on the result of the 2011 evaluation indicate that the system doesn’t work effectively. The result  shows that 16,767 out of 17,000 received C  in the A to E scale. A former principal in Nagano commented that he had no choice but to give a C to all teachers because assigning low evaluation scores required an evidence-based account, which was not practically feasible. The Nagano Department of Education commented that the current teacher evaluation system has to be something that produces mostly average C scores. This is due to the reconciliation with the teacher union, which argued against the Nagano Department of Education about highlighting the differences among teachers in terms of their teaching effectiveness.

For more information (in Japanese):

A webpage of Fukuashiba Elementary School in Ibaragi Japan


Hirofumi Hirano

Antibullying Guidelines Released/Designated Special Advisors to Provide Expert Advice on Handling Incidents

Jiji Press, The Daily Yomiuri Online (September 7, 2012)

In an effort to reduce bullying in schools, Japan’s education ministry has set guidelines for directly dealing with the issue. The ministry plans this month to seek aid from special advisors such as lawyers, former police officers and psychiatrists on how to “prevent and handle” bullying in schools. Moreover, the ministry has requested that its budget be increased to permit the allocation of more funds directed towards instituting programs to reduce bullying. They have requested an increase from about 2.7 billion yen from fiscal 2012 to about 7.3 billion yen for the next fiscal year. With the institution of the new budget, the ministry plans to direct the funds towards an increase in social workers and clinical psychologists available to public schools and victims.

Education minister Hirofumi Hirano said at a press conference Wednesday, “After serious cases in which students’ lives were at risk, we will face the issue directly and sincerely.”

To read more on this topic:

At Least 3,500 Bullying Cases Seen in Tokyo Schools

Bullied Student Gets Apology / School Recognizes Problem, but Victim Asked to Leave Over ‘Anxiety’

Suicide in Japanese Schools Must Stop


Distributing Tablets in All Schools in Osaka (in Japanese)
Asai Shinbun (1 June 2012)

The Osaka City School Board announced a plan to buy tablets for all elementary and middle schools in the city by 2015.  The plan also involves connecting individual tablets with an interactive whiteboard in classrooms.  It will cost more than $10 million to invest in the tablets and to develop the interactive classroom system.

To see an example of how one Japanese classroom utilized iPads during a lesson, see the following video:


Expanding Science Elites: Super Science High School (in Japanese)
Watanabe, A. Benesse.jp (14 May 2012)

The Ministry of Education established the Super Science High School (SSH) system to combat a decreasing interest in math, science, and technology in Japanese schools in 2002.  With 73 newly appointed schools in 2012 (an increase of 33 schools from 2011), there is a total of 178 SSHs across Japan. Of those 73 new SSHs selected from the pool of 97 applications, 3 are national, 57 are public, and 13 are private schools. SSH students have the opportunities to experience university-level and world-class research while participating in international science fairs and interacting with top researchers from various universities, institutes, and corporations.


The new national teaching guidelines for middle schools (in Japanese)
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (unspecified)

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology announced that the new guidelines for middle school will be effective this month. This follows the implementation of new guidelines at the elementary level last year. The new guidelines have four major aspects. First is to increase rigor in the curriculum. This will be promoted by the second aspect of the reform:  to increase weekly instructional hours by 10% in language arts, social studies, mathematics, science, physical education and foreign languages. The third aspect of reform is to place emphasis on teaching basic knowledge and skills, improve the ability to apply them, and to increase student motivation. The last aspect is to promote collaboration between schools, homes, and communities.


Osaka Prefecture Council passed Basic Education Acts (in Japanese)
Asahi Shinbun Digital (23 March 2012)

“The Osaka prefecture council passed three acts — Basic Act on Educational Administration, Basic Act on Prefecture School Act, and Basic Act on Teachers — on March 23. They will take effect April 1.  These acts will bring about drastic changes in educational administration and practice in Osaka. The changes include: 1) the governors’ increased involvement in educational affairs, 2) the elimination of school districts, 3) the implementation of a school and teacher evaluation system,  and 4) raising the penalty for teacher misconduct.”


Over 80% of Public Schools Will Participate in National Academic Achievement Test (in Japanese)
Sankei News (8 March 2012)

The Education Ministry announced that 81.2% of public schools in Japan expressed interest in participating in the nation-wide academic achievement test. The test will be administered to 6th and 9th graders on April 17. The national academic achievement test had not been administered for 43 years, from 1966 to 2008. However, since its reintroduction in 2009, the participation rate has been gradually increasing.