Higher Education in Japan: Its Uniqueness and Historical Development

  • Hideto FukudomeEmail author
Part of the Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (EDAP, volume 47)


Japan has one of the largest higher education systems in the world. Today, about 80% of Japanese 18-year-olds proceed to various types of higher education institutions after they graduate from high school. About 60% of them enter four-year and two-year colleges and universities, and about 20% enroll in the nonuniversity sector, that is, technical and vocational training colleges and technology colleges without degree-granting status. Some countries have larger percentages of students who enroll in higher education than Japan; however, given Japan’s relatively larger population, its higher education system matriculates a larger number of students. The percentage of high-school graduates advancing to higher education has rapidly increased over the past 20 years, and most young people have had access to some kind of higher education in recent years (MEXT 2017). Japan has built one of the most well-structured higher education systems in the world, indicating a “massified” democratized higher education system, of which we should be proud. However, this massive system is not usually seen as a major indicator of the success of the Japanese higher education system. Despite the attainment of this large-scale democratic educational system, higher education has experienced some major issues in terms of quality.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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