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Can the Japanese Change Their Education System?
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Oxford Studies in Comparative Education

Can the Japanese Change Their Education System?


2003 paperback 182 pages, £30.00, ISBN 978-1-873927-59-5

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About the book

This volume in the Oxford Studies in Comparative Education series analyses the success or otherwise of reform efforts in Japanese education since the Second World War. Contributors address a wide variety of themes from differing perspectives, their articles ranging from a historical study of reform efforts during the military occupation of Japan, through an analysis of educational developments under Prime Minister Nakasone, to the practical effects of changes in the teaching of mathematics. It will be of interest to all students of education in Japan.


Roger Goodman. The Why, What and How of Educational Reform in Japan

William K. Cummings. Why Reform Japanese Education?

Masako Shibata. Destruction and Reconstruction: a comparative analysis of the education reform in Japan and Germany under the US military occupation after World War Two

Christopher P. Hood. The Third Great Reform of the Japanese Education System: success in the 1980s onwards

Peter Cave. Japanese Educational Reform: developments and propects at primary and secondary level

Robert W. Aspinall. Japanese Nationalism and the Reform of English Language Teaching

Yoko Tsuruta. Globalisation and the Recent Reforms in Japanese Higher Education

Julia Whitburn. Changes in Mathematics Teaching in Japan: are they real or rational?

David Phillips. Postscript. Reflections on British Interest in Education in Japan


Robert W. Aspinall teaches English and comparative culture in the Faculty of Economics, Shiga University, Japan. He also teaches Japanese politics part-time at Nagoya University. He is the author of Teachers’ Unions and the Politics of Education in Japan (SUNY Press, 2001).

Peter Cave is a lecturer in the Department of Japanese Studies at the University of Hong Kong. He completed a degree in English at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, before teaching English for three years in a Japanese high school. He then returned to Oxford to take a second degree in Oriental Studies (Japanese), followed by an MPhil. and DPhil. in Social Anthropology. His thesis was an ethnographic study of upper primary and lower secondary schooling in Japan.

William K. Cummings is Professor of International Education at George Washington University. After completing a doctoral dissertation on university reform in Japan in the early 1970s (published as The Japanese Academic Market and University Reform by Garland in 1992), he turned his focus to the relation of school and society, leading to Education and Equality in Japan (Princeton University Press, 1980). Since then he has occasionally published on Japanese education while at the same time working to broaden his scope and develop a comprehensive interpretation of modern education.

Roger Goodman is a lecturer in the social anthropology of Japan at the University of Oxford, specialising in the study of Japanese education and social welfare. He is the author of Japan’s ‘International Youth’: the emergence of a new class of schoolchildren (Oxford University Press, 1990) and Children of the Japanese State: the changing role of child protection institutions in contemporary Japan (Oxford University Press, 2000) and the editor of Family and Social Policy in Japan: anthropological approaches (Cambridge University Press, 2002).

Christopher P. Hood graduated from the University of Sheffield in Business Studies and Japanese and taught for one year on the JET Programme. He completed a PhD on Nakasone Yasuhiro and Japanese education reform which was published in 2001 (Routledge). Currently he is conducting research on the shinkansen (‘bullet train’), as well as Japanese politics, sport in Japan (especially football and sumo), and on various smaller projects (e.g. the earthquake problem and whaling). He is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House).

David Phillips is Professor of Comparative Education and a Fellow of St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford. He is editor of the Oxford Review of Education and series editor of Oxford Studies in Comparative Education. His research has focused principally on Germany and he is the author of several books and many articles on aspects of education in that country. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and has recently been elected an Academician of the new Social Sciences Academy.

Masako Shibata completed her MA and PhD studies at the Institute of Education of the University of London. Most of her research is historically based and centres on the relationship between education and the state. She is currently a part-time lecturer in the Institute for Language and Culture, Doshisha University, Kyoto.

Yoko Tsuruta is a researcher in the Department of Educational Studies, University of Oxford, having been a chief administrator for international exchange at Waseda University, Tokyo, which she joined in 1993. She studied intercultural communication at the International Christian University and educational psychology at Yokohama National University before completing an MSc degree in Comparative and International Education at Oxford. She is particularly interested in the globalisation and internationalisation of higher education.

Julia Whitburn is a Research Fellow with the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, London where she is engaged on international and comparative research on mathematics education, with a particular interest in Japan, Switzerland, Germany and Hungary. She taught mathematics at a variety of levels for more than twenty years and is currently involved in initial teacher training in mathematics. Her publications on Japanese education include Strength in Numbers, which is a comparative study of the way Japanese and English children acquire mathematical understanding in the early years of schooling.

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