Shin-Global Jidai ni idomu Nihon no Kyoiku (The Japanese Educational Challenge in a New Global Era: Multicultural Society from a Comparative Education Worldview)
This book examines from various angles the global education issues confronting Japanese society. In particular, these issues are viewed from the perspectives of related fields such as sociology of education and intercultural education, with a focus on comparative education. The “New Global Era” referred to in the title emphasizes globalization’s shift from a self-evident phenomenon to one that is critically chosen (ii). Within such an appellation lies the intention of looking at the current state of internationalization and multiculturalization of education in Japan from a social justice perspective. Each chapter will approach issues that are often difficult to see or talk about in Japanese society and consider what is inherently problematic in matters and views that are thought of as “normal” and typically go unexamined in society, as well as the potential to rethink them in new ways. The strengths of the Japanese education system that go unnoticed in the country will also be discussed. In particular, we critically examined the formal equality that presumes homogeneity, a tenet of Japan’s national education, and propose changes in the education system to cultivate globally minded democratic citizens.
A key point in this book is the use of critical ethnography to enter the lifeworlds of minority groups in Japan and illuminate issues in Japanese education from the margins. The chapters in Parts I and II focus on the experiences of immigrant parents and children, international students, students with disabilities, chronically absent students, and youth with acute social withdrawal (hikikomori) as part of a critical examination of what is considered “normal” in a Japanese society that presumes homogeneity. Along with investigating the power of majority inherent in Japanese society and education through participant observation and interviews, we drew on extensive data in hopes of depicting the challenges involved in actually empowering minority groups in schools and other educational institutions.
Another key point in this book is the use of international comparisons to identify the problems and possibilities within the Japanese education system from an outsider’s perspective. Several chapters in Parts I and II discuss the invisibility of immigrants in Japan and the pressures of assimilation and exclusion that bring about this invisibility, by comparing how immigrants are understood and supported in education in the West. In Part III, we covered topics such as collaborative primary education and childcare in Japan with play-based learning, low self-esteem among Japanese children, and basic education reform in China. We hope to open up a balanced discussion of the various strengths and weaknesses in Japan’s education system from an international perspective. Through international comparisons, it becomes evident that what is thought of as “normal” in Japan may, in fact, not be the norm in other countries or regions, demonstrating the possibility of different views and systems than that which we have now.
This book was compiled on the occasion of the retirement of Dr. Ryoko Tsuneyoshi, who has led research at the Graduate School of Education, University of Tokyo for many years, by an assemblage of her students, including the author. Dr. Tsuneyoshi has been a leader in comparative education in Japan, and her work has spanned both Japanese and international, theoretical and applied, normative and positive, macro and micro research—all the while flexibly straddling the boundaries between such dichotomies. Beyond her academic gaze always lay the objective of realizing a Japanese-style multicultural society. In this book, we hope for readers to obtain a sense of her legacy throughout each chapter, and to share with them our vision for an equitable society that embraces diversity.
(Written by NUKAGA Misako, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education / 2021)