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Education Policy and Equal Opportunity in Japan by Akito Okada

Education Policy and Equal Opportunity in Japan

Part of the Asia-Pacific Studies: Past and Present Series


Education Policy and Equal Opportunity in Japan by Akito Okada

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.


- a significant contribution to knowledge in the field of Japanese educational studies. The author provides detailed analysis of the theme of educational opportunity in post-war Japan ...[and] makes available to an audience that cannot read Japanese a wealth of detail about this key area of educational policy and practice.

* Robert W. Aspinall, Shiga University

This is a good piece of work on history of 'equal opportunity
in Japanese education. It covers historical changes of education policies and educational thoughts behind them in postwar Japan, with a comparative view to the West

- there are few works on this on this topic published in English.

* Takehiko Kariya, Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, University of Oxford

About the Author

Akito Okada is Associate Professor in the Institute of Global Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. He is the author of Secondary Education Reform and the Concept of Equality of Opportunity in Japan in Compare (2009); Japan as a Prototype of the 'Degreeocracy' Society? in Educational Review (2001); and Education of whom, for whom, by whom? Revision of the Fundamental Law of Education in Japan in Japan Forum (2002). His main research interest is Japanese educational reform in comparative context.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th December 2011


Akito Okada

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Berghahn Books


218 pages


Social & cultural history
Asian history
Educational strategies & policy
Social discrimination & inequality



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