Who Runs Japan’s Schools?

Education Governance and Management

Authored by: Robert Aspinall

Handbook of Asian Education

Print publication date:  December  2010
Online publication date:  November  2010

Print ISBN: 9780805864458
eBook ISBN: 9780203816318
Adobe ISBN: 9781136721298


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Who rules Japan’s schools? As is the case for any large and complex society the answer to this question is not easy. Although Japan is often perceived as an orderly and conformist society, throughout its modern history there have been serious disputes concerning the correct organization and make-up of its educational system. This chapter addresses the topic of education governance in a three-tiered approach. Section I gives an historical overview focusing on the two main formative periods of the modern education system, the Meiji period and the Occupation period. Section II sketches the main functions of the different parts of the system starting with the Ministry of Education and working its way down to the teachers, parents and students. Finally, Section III examines three case studies covering the period from 1985 to 2008 that illustrate patterns of conflict and power relations within and between all three levels of the education system: the national, the prefectural (or municipal), and the individual school.

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