Universal Participation in School Education as a Historical Process in Modern Japan

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


Why and how has universal participation in education emerged in Japan, despite it being a non-Western country? How has this universal participation in education transformed Japanese society? This chapter elaborates on the Japanese universal participation process according to individual educational stages, ranging from primary education to upper secondary education, and introduces characteristics of equality within the Japanese school system, as a universalized educated society in a non-Western context. Through historical research, it is shown that there were two important turning points for the development of Japanese education and society. The first turning point was the introduction of the Japanese school model in the Meiji era (1868–1912). The second turning point responded to and sought to reform a restricted, unequal prewar society with partial support from the General Headquarters (GHQ). These two turning points made it possible for Japanese society to find and cultivate new, bright human resources from every social class. Another interesting finding from this historical account is that Japan became a completely “schooled” society. This “schooled” society means that the importance of formal education is deeply rooted in contemporary Japanese society.



This work would not have been possible without fruitful discussion with Jürgen Schriewer, Katja Schmidtpott, Takehiko Kariya, and Hideyasu Kodama. Mei Kagawa not only contributed to the discussion but also helped with graph construction. Ami Kobayashi and Kentaro Hori helped with bibliography construction. Arthur Meerman, Gabriel Innes, and Editage gave linguistic help. This author is grateful to the Chukyo University Research Fund for financial assistance with this research. Finally, I appreciate the extremely tolerant acceptance of this manuscript by editorial members, especially Akiyoshi Yonezawa.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chukyo UniversityToyotaJapan

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