The Beginning of the End? Changes in Junior Colleges in Japanese Female Higher Education
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Junior Colleges in Japan have been playing an important role in Japanese female higher education for more than 60 years. The junior college system established under the Japanese educational system was implemented following World War II. Junior colleges started in 1950 and were positioned as a type of university system in 1964. The government established an associate degree system for junior colleges with the revision of the school education law in 1976. The number of junior colleges and their students reached a peak from 1993 to 1996 and since then has continued to decline. Currently, there are 17 local public junior colleges and 324 private junior colleges throughout the country. In Japan, higher education basically has three functions: a status-achieving function, a status-shaping function, and a status-demonstrating functions. It can be said that the first function was providing preparation for men, and the other functions were doing so or women until the 1990s. Junior colleges have played a pivotal role for the second and the third functions.This chapter focuses on the factors that have changed at the legal, social, college, and personal levels in the Heisei Period of contemporary Japan. It explores the future of junior colleges in the country in order to inquire whether junior colleges will continue to exist in Japan and in the process details the changing role of women in Japan society and throughout its higher education structures.
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