I have conducted research on Yasuhiro Nakasone and education reform in Japan. This research was the theme of my doctoral research which I started in 1994 and completed in 1998, and was published in 2001 (Japanese Education Reform: Nakasone’s Legacy – London: Routledge). I have also conducted some research about Shintaro Ishihara and nationalism in Japan.
The Japanese education system has attracted increasing attention over the past twenty years or so, largely due to the belief that it has been central to Japan’s economic growth. However, many have felt that the system is stunted by an inability, or perhaps even an incapacity, to change. My research challenges these contentions. It examines the reform policies initiated by Prime Minister Nakasone during the 1980s and argues that, not only has the system changed considerably as a result of Nakasone’s work, but it continues to do so.
My book, Japanese Education Reform: Nakasone’s Legacy, analyses the key areas of the education reform debate, in particular internationalism, government control of education, increased liberalisation and various social problems, and considers the degree to which responses to them have been successful. Basing my research on a wide range of sources including interviews with Nakasone himself, Shintaro Ishihara (Governor of Tokyo), and Ministry of Education officials, the study finds that reforms are being implemented according to Nakasone’s agenda, although they have taken time to come about. The study argues that this may in time lead to their proving more successful than previous attempts at reform.
Japanese Education Reform: Nakasone’s Legacy considers the major changes that have occurred and provides a fuller understanding of Nakasone, his ideologies and the ‘new Japanese’ who will be produced by the reformed system. It is essential reading for all students and scholars interested in the history of educational reform and its implications for Japanese society.
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