The Internationalization of Japanese Higher Education: Incremental Change in a Dynamic Global Environment

  • Beverley A. YamamotoEmail author
Part of the Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (EDAP, volume 46)


It is noteworthy that “internationalization” has not been treated systematically in the sociology of education literature in Japan. It has been largely dealt with by researchers working in comparative and international education. This being the case, this chapter explores the rhetoric and practice of internationalization in higher education in Japan paying attention to power dynamics and inequities. Drawing on research, official documentation and policy statements on the one hand, and situated practice as the director of one undergraduate English-taught program (ETP) and international faculty member on the other, the author seeks to explore internationalization policy and practice in the context of leading universities in Japan. This exploration will demonstrate that on the basis of a number of indicators, quantitative and qualitative, these leading institutions are becoming internationalized. Yet, with a number of Asian countries more aggressive in the global ratings game, Japanese HEIs are falling behind on a key indicator of world-class status. At the same time, the top-down nature of the dynamic for change and neoliberal evaluative processes that require numerical target-setting undermine loftier goals of embracing diversity. We will conclude that internationalization is happening but at a slow pace in a highly dynamic global environment.



I would like to thank Mahboubeh Rakhshandehroo and Justin Sanders, who as research assistants made important contributions to this chapter in terms of data gathering and proofreading.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Osaka UniversitySuitaJapan

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