Education in the Empire of Japan
Education in the Empire of Japan was a high priority for the government, as the leadership of the early
Meiji governmentrealized the critical need for universal public educationin its drive to modernize and westernize Japan. Overseas missions such as the Iwakura missionwere sent abroad to study the education systems of leading Western countries.
Japanese Education Policy in the Meiji period
In 1871, the Ministry of Education was established, with a school system based closely on the American model, which promoted a utilitarian curriculum, but with the centrally-controlled school administration system copied from
France. With the aid of foreign advisors, such as David Murray and Marion McCarrell Scott, Normal Schools for teacher education were also created in each prefecture.
Private schools run by Buddhist temples ("
terakoya") and neighborhood associations were nationalized as elementary schools; feudal domain schools run by " daimyo" became middle schools, and the Tokugawa shogunal Academy became the foundation of Tokyo Imperial University.
However, the early educational system proved unwieldy and ran into considerable opposition. Although an attempt was made to decentralize the system in the Education Order of 1879, the Revised Education Order of 1880 strengthened central control and added a new curriculum which emphasized conservative, traditional ideals more reflective of
Japanese values. Confucian precepts were stressed, especially those concerning the hierarchical nature of human relations, service to the new Meiji state, the pursuit of learning, and morality. These ideals, embodied in the 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education, along with highly centralized government control over education, largely guided Japanese education until the end of World War II.
In 1885, the
cabinetsystem of government was established, and Mori Arinoribecame the first Minister of Education of Japan. Mori, together with Inoue Kowashicreated the foundation of the Empire of Japan's educational system by issuing a series of orders from 1886. These laws established an elementary schoolsystem, middle schoolsystem, normal schoolsystem and an imperial universitysystem.
Elementary school was made compulsory from 1872, and was intended to create loyal subjects of the Emperor. Middle Schools were preparatory schools for students destined to enter one of the Imperial Universities, and the Imperial Universities were intended to create westernized leaders who would be able to direct the modernization of Japan.
With the increasing industrialization of Japan, demand increased for
higher educationand vocational training. Inoue Kowashi, who followed Mori as Minister of Education established a state vocational schoolsystem, and also promoted women's education through a separate girl's school system. Compulsory educationwas extended to six years in 1907. According to the new laws, textbooks could only be issued upon the approval of the Ministry of Education. The curriculum was centered on moral education (mostly aimed at instilling patriotism), mathematics, reading and writing, composition, Japanese calligraphy, Japanese history, geography, science, drawing, singing, and physical education. All children of the same age learned each subject from the same series of textbook.
Education in Japan from 1912-1937
During the Taishō and early
Shōwa periods, from 1912-1937, the education system in Japan became increasingly centralized. From 1917-1919, the government created the nihongo|Extraordinary Council on Education|臨時教育会議|Rinji Kyōiku Kaigi, which issued numerous reports and recommendations on educational reform. One of the main emphases of the Council was in higher education. Period to 1918, "university" was synonymous with "imperial university", but as a result of the Council, many private universities obtained officially recognized status. The Council also introduced subsidies for families too poor to afford the tuitions for compulsory education, and also pushed for more emphasis on moral education
During this period, new social currents, including
socialism, communism, anarchism, and liberalismexerted influences on teachers and teaching methods. The nihongo|New Educational Movement|新教育運動|Shin Kyōiku Undō led to teachers unions and student protest movements against the nationalist educational curriculum. The government responded with increased repression, and adding some influences from the German system in an attempt to increase the patriotic spirit and step up the militarization of Japan. The Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailorsbecame compulsory reading for students during this period.
Specialized schools for the blind and for the deaf were established as early as 1878, and were regulated and standardized by the government in the Blind, Deaf and Dumb Schools Order of 1926. Blind people were encouraged toward vocations such as
massage, acupuncture, physical therapyand piano tuning.
Education in Japan in World War II
Manchurian Incidentof 1931, the curriculum of the national educational system became increasingly nationalisticand after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese Warin 1937, the curriculum became increasingly militaristicand was influenced by ultranationalist Education Minister Sadao Araki.
In 1941, elementary schools were renamed nihongo|National People's Schools|國民學校|Kokumin Gakkō and students were required to attend nihongo|Youth Schools|青年学校|Seinen Gakkō vocational training schools on graduation, which mixed vocational and basic
military training(for boys) and home economics(for girls). The "Seinen Gakkō" also conducted classes at night for working boys and girls.
Normal schools were renamed nihongo|Specialized Schools|専門学校|Senmon Gakkō, and were often affiliated with a university. The "Senmon Gakkō" taught
medicine, law, economics, commerce, agricultural science, engineeringor business management. The aim of the "Senmon Gakkō" was to produce a professional class, rather than intellectual elite. In the pre-war period, all higher school for women were "Senmon Gakkō".
After the start of the
Pacific Warin 1941, nationalistic and militaristic indoctrination were further strengthened. Textbooks such as the " Kokutai no Hongi" became required reading. The principal educational objective was teaching the traditional national political values, religion and morality. This had prevailed from the Meiji period. The Japanese state modernized organizationally, but preserved its national idiosyncrasies. Emphasis was laid on the Emperor worshipcult, and loyalty to the most important values of the nation, and the importance of ancient military virtues.
surrender of Japanin 1945, the United States Education Missions to Japan in 1946 and again in 1950 under the direction of the American occupation authorities abolished the old educational framework and established the foundation of Japan's post-war educational system.
History of education in Japan
last = Kennleyside
first = Hugh LI
year = 1937
title = History of Japanese Education and Present Educational System
id = ASIN: B000RL6V3C
last = Khan
first = Yoshimitsu
year = 1998
title = Japanese Moral Education Past and Present
publisher = Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
id = ISBN 0838636934
last = Miyoshi
first = Nobuhiro
year = 2004
title = Henry Dyer, Pioneer Of Education In Japan
publisher = Global Oriental
id = ISBN 1901903664
last = Shibata
first = Masako
year = 2005
title = Japan and Germany under the U.S. Occupation: A Comparative Analysis of Post-War Education Reform
publisher = Lexington Books
id = ISBN 0739111493
last = Toyoda
first = Toshio
year = 1988
title = Vocational Education in the Industrialization of Japan
publisher = United Nations University
id = ISBN 9280805843
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