Tag Archives: Japan


Interview with the Minister of Education

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (May 7, 2013)

Japan's Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura. REUTERS photo

Japan’s Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura. REUTERS photo

Mr. Shimomura, the Minister of Education, Culture , Sports, Science, and Technology, has just returned form his visit to European nations. Reflecting on his tour, he commented on the urgent necessity of shifting the paradigm of Japanese language education abroad. In the past, the target population of Japanese language education abroad was children of Japanese citizens, who intended to return to Japan in the near future. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of Japanese children who are not planning to return to Japan. Many of these children are biracial, having a Japanese parent who hopes to instill and nurture his/her children’s identity as Japanese. In response to this need, the MEXT will generate an plan on how to spread Japanese language education globally.
In addition, the MEXT plans to suggest other nations to teach Japanese in public schools. For example, the UK, has a plan of teaching seven foreign languages in elementary schools soon. However, in the current plan, Japanese is not included as one of those seven languages. The MEXT will communicate the ministry of education in the U.K about how important it is to teach Japanese to prepare global citizens, who can contribute to the world economy.

For more information:

Council proposes lowering age for English education

Japan’s ambitious proposals for higher education and language sectors

LDP takes aim at English education, seeks to boost TOEFL levels


Report on Problematic Behaviors of Public School Students

The Ministry of Education (March 13, 2013)


Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology: Japan

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology: Japan

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in Japan published an updated version of a national survey, titled “Problematic Behaviors of Public School Students (1-12).”  According to the survey, violence against peers and teachers in schools decreased across all grade levels. The number of truant students decreased by 2,000 in elementary and junior high school compared to last year; however, the number of truant students increased by 600 at the high school level. In addition, the number of 1- 12 grade students who committed suicide was 202. This is a 29.5% increase compared to last year. The survey follows a report last month from the National Police Agency that revealed the number of bullying incidents reported in 2012 more than doubled to 260 from the year before. The report also showed that 511 students were arrested or taken into custody in 2012.  A special commission on education reform is expected to address these issues by recommending, among other things, that “moral education” be made a regular subject.

For more information:

Japanese City Takes on Bullies

Harumafuji saddened by bullying incidents


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: