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2 Trends and Development in Education, Science and Technology Policies Summary

Chapter1 The Creation of a Lifelong Learning Society and the Comprehensive Promotion of Educational Policies

The Basic Act on Education was revised in 2006 and sets forth basic principles of education based on contemporary issues such as the progress of science and technology, informatization, internationalization, and the declining birthrate and aging population. To realize these principles, the Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education was formulated as a comprehensive government plan on education in accordance with the provisions of Article 17, paragraph (1) of the Basic Act on Education. In June 2011, advice of the Central Council for Education was sought concerning formulation of Second Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education in light of various changes in social conditions and the occurrence of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The Council is now conducting deliberations.

 Based on the principles set forth in the Basic Act on Education and the Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has been working on measures such as reduction of the burden of educational costs, improvement of schools’ abilities to educate, and creation of world-leading universities. Meanwhile, the National Institute for Educational Policy Research, whose role is to collect and present meaningful knowledge for planning and suggesting educational policy, has been conducting a variety of research and studies on the overall educational administration, including primary and secondary education, higher education, lifelong learning, and educational facilities.

 Lifelong learning is that which people continue throughout their lives through means such as education at home, school education, social education, and self-initiated learning. Concerning principles of lifelong learning, Article 3 of the Basic Act on Education stipulates that “Society shall be made to allow all citizens to continue to learn throughout their lives, on all occasions and in all places, and apply the outcomes of lifelong learning appropriately to refine themselves and lead a fulfilling life.”

 Based on the provisions of the Basic Act on Education, MEXT advances the following measures for promoting lifelong learning, aiming to realize a lifelong learning society that will allow all citizens to continue to learn on all occasions and in all places, and appropriately apply the outcomes of such learning.

  • Support for community efforts to assist children’s education, such as School Support Regional Headquarters and the Program to Promote After-School Classes for Children, and promotion of social education including improvement of Citizens’ Public Halls and libraries as regional bases of learning
  • Promotion of measures for supporting education at home, such as organization of teams to support it and measures for healthily raising children
  • Provision of diverse learning opportunities, such as extension courses at universities, improvement of the Open University of Japan, and promotion of specialized training colleges
  • Promotion of appropriate assessment and application of outcomes of learning through measures such as the Upper Secondary School Equivalency Examination and improvement of the quality of private education
  • Handling of contemporary issues such as response to the aging population, promotion of human rights education, and advancement of learning activities aimed at forming a gender-equal society

Chapter2 Further Enhancement of Children’s Education

Education of children is aimed at forming the character of each child. This is an essential measure for ensuring that children lead happy lives into the future. Education’s mission is also to foster human resources who will lead the country and society in the future. This importance of education will remain unchanged regardless of the changing times. Most notably, education’s importance has been increasing even further in recent years given rapid changes in society such as globalization, emergence of a knowledge-based society, and the declining birthrate and aging population.

Fig. 2-2-1 Philosophy of Course of Study

image Fig. 2-2-1 Philosophy of Course of Study

 For further improving children’s education in this era, MEXT implements the following diverse measures aimed at securing opportunities for, and maintaining and improving the level of, education. 

  • The Courses of Study have been stipulated as the general standard for the Curriculum ranging from kindergartens to upper secondary schools, to ensure that children can receive the same level of education wherever they are in Japan. The Courses of Study for kindergartens, elementary schools, and lower secondary schools were revised in March 2008, and those for upper secondary schools and schools for special needs education, etc. were revised in March 2009. These revisions are aimed at fostering a “zest for life” with emphasis on seeking balance between academic ability, richness in humanity, and sound body. Accordingly, the revisions focus on development of abilities to think, make decisions, and express oneself, as well as acquisition of knowledge and skills, and include an increased number of classes and enhance the contents of education.
  • It is also essential to improve the quality and quantity of school textbooks, which play an important role in children’s learning as the primary educational materials for school subjects. MEXT therefore examines textbooks to ensure that they comply with the new Courses of Study.
  • Success or failure of educational activities at school greatly depends on the quality and ability of teachers in the classrooms, who directly interact with the children. Improving the quality and abilities of teachers is an important policy issue for improving children’s education; therefore, an educational personnel certificate system is used for qualifying teachers. Under the system a variety of measures are implemented in various phases, such as teacher training at universities and other institutions and selection and training of teachers by the prefectural boards of education. Measures for comprehensive improvement of teachers’ quality and ability are also being studied for achieving even higher-quality education.
  • To ensure equal opportunities for education and to maintain and improve educational quality, the entire cost of salaries of teachers and other personnel at public compulsory-education schools is assumed by the national government and each prefectural government under the Compulsory Education System Funded by Tax Revenues. In April 2011, to implement the new Courses of Study at full scale and ensure appropriate handling of issues on school education, such as bullying, the legal standards for class sizes for elementary first-grade classes was lowered to 35 students and a system that enables flexible determination of class size suited to the conditions of each region or school was developed (and came into force in April 2012). Moreover, the FY2012 budget includes improvement of staffing levels of teachers and other personnel by a total of 3,800, including an increase of the fixed number of additional teachers (by 900) needed for adjusting the sizes of elementary second-grade classes so none exceed 35 students, as well as an increase for themes such as improving specialized subjects at elementary schools, special needs education and responding to the Great East Japan Earthquake.
  • Society as a whole must appropriately assume the costs of education to ensure that children can receive the education they need and become independent regardless of their family’s financial situation. MEXT has been striving to reduce the burden of educational costs on families throughout the educational stages. For example, in April 2010, it made public high schools tuition-free and introduced the high school enrollment support fund system.
  • To foster future generations of specialists in science and technology and improve each citizen’s basic scientific knowledge, MEXT promotes comprehensive measures for developing science and technology and improving science and mathematics education. For instance, it has been improving measures for cultivating interest in science and mathematics among children and for identifying and developing children’s ability in those subjects. At the same time, MEXT has been pursuing efforts to enhance foreign language education throughout elementary, junior high and high schools. For example, foreign language activities has been introduced at the elementary school level nationwide since the start of FY 2011.
  • It has been noted in recent years that the transition from school life to social and work life is not made smoothly and that children do not have clear objectives in learning subjects or engaging in other activities at school or selecting future courses. Such trends are apparent from the high total unemployment rate and high ratio of non-regular employees among young people, and the existence of young people who are not engaged in work and employees quitting their job in the early stages. Career education at school is important for enabling youths to acquire the attitude and abilities needed for achieving social and vocational independence and creating lives by applying clear objectives. At the same time, vocational education at school is necessary for enabling young people to respond to requirements for higher levels of professional knowledge and skills and diversification of vocations, which are expected to be faced by workers in the future, and to steadily perform their duties. In January 2011, the Central Council for Education released a policy report titled “Future Vision on Career Education and Vocational Education at School.” MEXT has determined it will take steps to improve career education and vocational education in view of this report’s contents.
  • There are still a considerable number of cases of problems concerning student guidance, such as acts of violence and bullying at school and non-attendance. These problems are significant educational issues. To appropriately address these issues for making school life meaningful and fulfilling for children, MEXT makes efforts such as compiling cases of those problems that may be informative for schools in formulating countermeasures and improving the educational counseling system.
  • MEXT has also been promoting initiatives for raising human rights awareness through school and social education, early childhood education, which cultivates the foundation of the lifelong formation of character, and the promotion of special needs education for children with disabilities, in consideration of their individual educational needs, which aims at full development of their capabilities and their independence, and social participation. MEXT has also been improving measures to help foreign children to access school education, promoting education for international understanding and improving Overseas Japanese Children’s Education, to nurture people who are able to flourish in our internationalized society.
  • School is a place for learning activities aimed at ensuring children’s sound growth and selfactualization. Therefore it is important that schools take measures to keep children healthy and safe. MEXT promotes dietary education at schools, handling issues concerning physical and mental health of children at schools, and implementing measures for ensuring safety of children at, and commuting to and from, school.
  • The ratio of students continuing on to high school has neared 98% as high school has become an educational institution attended by nearly all citizens. The increased percentage has led to diversification of abilities, aptitudes, interests, concerns, future courses, and other characteristics of students. Accordingly, MEXT promotes high school education that cultivates each student’s individuality. At the Central Council for Education, a Working Group on High School Education has been set up under the Subdivision on Primary and Secondary Education of the Central Council for Education, and deliberations on future education, etc. by the Working Group continue.
  • Improvements of educational environments and the quality of schools’ education cannot be achieved solely through measures taken by schools themselves. It is important that children’s parents and guardians and members of the local communities deepen trust-based relationships with schools and actively support school management based on the awareness that they share the responsibility for using schools to educate children. MEXT accordingly grants schools greater discretion concerning curricula, budgets, and other matters so that schools can manage themselves autonomously and independently, creatively initiating educational activities based on the realities of the communities and children. At the same time, MEXT promotes creation of schools that coexist with local communities by sharing goals (how children should be) with people in the communities and fostering children together with people in the communities.

photo Kindergarteners inventing new forms of enjoyable play (Kindergarten Attached to Joetsu University of Education)
Kindergarteners inventing new forms of enjoyable play (Kindergarten Attached to Joetsu University of Education)

Chapter3 Diverse Development of Universities, etc.

Institutes of higher learning, including universities, junior colleges, and colleges of technology, play a key role in advanced education and research in the country. They widely contribute to the development of society and economy through advanced research and development of human resources with a broad range of general knowledge and with knowledge and skills in specific academic disciplines.

 MEXT intends to guarantee the quality of universities and improve their educating ability through the Approval System of the Establishment of Universities, which is the equivalent of a preliminary review, and the Certification and Evaluation System as the equivalent of an ex-post-facto evaluation. At the same time, MEXT supports university reform aimed at creating universities based on individuality and unique characteristics and at increasing international competitiveness. MEXT also encourages universities to proactively disclose their educational information in order to fulfill their responsibilities as public institutions and improve the levels of their education and research based on assessment by external parties.

 Given the advancement of globalization, progress toward a knowledge-based society, and accelerated mobilization of human resources at the global level, Japan’s universities face an urgent need to promote interaction, collaboration, and exchange between students among universities with guaranteed quality, and develop human resources capable of working internationally. MEXT supports universities in their internationalization and efforts for creating bases for interaction, and promotes measures aimed at high-quality exchanges, including expansion of the credit transfer system under the Campus Asia project.

 With regard to graduate schools, MEXT places greater emphasis on responding to diverse requests through collaborations among universities and society and creating an environment that will allow students to engage in friendly competition while having prospects for the future. MEXT is implementing measures for improving and strengthening graduate school education based on the Second Guideline for Promoting Graduate School Education (decision by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on August 5, 2011) to ensure that those who complete graduate school have guaranteed quality for working in diverse fields in Japan and overseas. Most notably, MEXT supports establishment of Leading Graduate Schools for fostering leaders who will work globally in industry, academia, or the government.

 Meanwhile, MEXT also promotes measures for addressing the country’s diverse social issues. In light of the harsh economic situation, MEXT implements measures for preventing motivated and capable students from giving up on their studies for economic reasons. These measures include support for reduction or waiver of tuition and enrollment fees by universities and further expansion of scholarship loan programs. With regard to scholarship loans, MEXT has implemented appropriate measures for those who have difficulty repaying them due to changes in their financial circumstances or for other reasons; measures including reduction of the repayment amount and establishment of a system for granting moratoriums on repayment.

 MEXT has also decided to provide comprehensive support for employment support by universities and measures for improving students’ employability through curricula and outside the curricula. MEXT cooperates with related offices and ministries in areas such as supporting prospective university graduates. For instance, it has requested that business associations, trade organizations, and other bodies stop alternatively moving forward and extending the periods of their recruiting activities.

 In addition to the above, MEXT promotes a wide array of measures for diverse development of higher education, such as training of medical and legal professionals, strengthening of the function of university hospitals as the core of medical care in the community, refining the selection of university entrants, and improving colleges of technology.

Chapter4 Promotion of Private Schools

Important Roles Played by Private Schools

The ratio of students enrolled in private schools is approximately 80% for universities and junior colleges, 30% for high schools, 80% for kindergartens, and over 90% for specialized training colleges and miscellaneous schools. Private schools evidently contribute greatly to the development of school education in Japan. In this society based on global knowledge and learning, private schools are required to promote distinctive education and research in accordance with people’s increasingly diverse needs/demands and they each actively promote unique activities based on their own philosophies. Private schools play important roles, both qualitatively and quantitatively, in the development of Japan’s school education.

 Accordingly, MEXT positions the promotion of private schools as an important policy goal, under which it strives to maintain and improve these schools’ educational and research conditions and reduce the financial burden of learning for students and pupils enrolled there. At the same time, to improve the reliability of private school management, MEXT implements promotional measures including the following as it strives to improve the functions of private schools.

1) Providing financial support for ordinary expenses such as cost of labor for teachers and other personnel and expenditures related to education and research and for facility maintenance costs
2) Offering loans via the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation for Private Schools of Japan
3) Providing preferential tax treatment
4) Providing support for management of school corporations

 Additionally, the revised Private Schools Act came into force on April 1, 2005, so that school corporations that establish private schools will respond appropriately to the rapid changes in social circumstances in recent years and voluntarily and flexibly address different issues. The major elements of the revised law are: (1) improvements of administrative systems of school corporations, (2) disclosure of financial information to stakeholders, and (3) review of the structure of the Private Schools Council.

 By making independent efforts to maintain and strengthen their management bases and actively disclose information about their education and research and financial status, private schools are expected to create unique, attractive schools that respond to people’s requests.

Chapter5 The Comprehensive Promotion of Science and Technology Policy

Japan’s science and technology (S&T) administration operates under the basic policies of the Council for Science and Technology Policy chaired by the Prime Minister and promotes S&T in coordination with relevant ministries. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) plans, devises, and promotes basic policies concerning science, technology, and education, formulates and promotes concrete plans concerning research and development, and coordinates with relevant government agencies in relation to science and technology. On August 19, 2011, the 4th Science and Technology Basic Plan was endorsed by the Cabinet, since which time MEXT has been implementing a variety of measures in accordance with three basic principles for future science and technology policies aimed at five target pictures of Japan for the medium term indicated in the new basic plan (ref.: http://www.mext.go.jp/component/a_menu/science/detail/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2011/08/19/1293746_02.pdf).

Target picture of Japan

(1) A nation achieving sustainable growth and societal development into the future, while accomplishing
reconstruction and rebirth from the disaster
(2) A nation realizing a safe, full, and high-quality life for citizens
(3) A nation leading in the resolution of global problems such as large-scale natural disasters
(4) A nation maintaining S&T which forms the basis of its existence
(5) A nation continuing to create intellectual property and nurturing a culture of S&T

Basic principles for future S&T policies

(1) Integrated promotion of “science, technology and innovation (STI) policies”
(2) Greater priority to “roles of human resources and their supporting organizations”
(3) Implementation of the “STI policy created together with society”

 Firstly, we are implementing measures necessary for the promotion of green innovation and life innovation with the aim of becoming “A nation achieving sustainable growth and societal development into the future, while accomplishing reconstruction and rebirth from the disaster.”

 Further, we are carrying out initiatives such as vigorously promoting research and development relating to areas that form the basis of the nation’s existence in order to cope with challenges other than disaster reconstruction, energy and the environment, medical services, nursing care, and health.

 In addition, we are moving forward with initiatives to promote basic research and strengthen human resources development as inseparable elements for coping with the priority issues that we must address as a nation.

 Finally, regarding STI policies as “policies for society and the public,” we are developing initiatives in order to gain public understanding, trust, and support, such as promotion of S&T communication, as well as reforming research and development systems.

Chapter6 Creating a “Sport Nation”

Sport possesses the intrinsic value to respond to the basic human desire for physical movement and to generate feelings of satisfaction, pleasure and joy. Sport plays a key role in diverse facets of people’s lives, for example by supporting the sound fostering of youth, revitalizing local communities, the retaining and promoting of mental and physical health, the generating social and economic vitality, and raising national status in the international community. In view of this, it is important that the plan strives to create a society where all people can enjoy a happy and fulfilled life through sport.

 “The Basic Act on Sport” was enacted in June 2011, following the first comprehensive revision of “the Sport Promotion Act” in 50 years. This newly established act maps out the basic ideas pertaining to sport, taking into close consideration such contemporary issues surrounding sport as demands for improvement in transparency and fairness / equity in the sport world, greater development of sport for people with disabilities, and increasing internationalization. The Act likewise stipulates that “the Sport Basic Plan” shall be established by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

 Based on this provision, in March 2012 MEXT formulated “the Sport Basic Plan” which mention is made of the key principles of sport promotion for the 10-year period from fiscal year 2012, as well as the comprehensive and systematic measures to be advanced over the next five years.

 By promoting these measures, the plan strives to create a society where all people can enjoy a happy and fulfilled life through sport.

Fig. The Sport Basic Plan Overviewed

image Fig. The Sport Basic Plan Overviewed

MEXT undertakes a range of initiatives to promote sports. These include the following:

  • Creating sports opportunities appropriate for each life stage, MEXT strives to improve children’s physical fitness from early childhood through “Early Childhood Activity Guideline” and other means, as well as promoting initiatives to encourage involvement in sports by analyzing fact-finding surveys on participation in sports by each generation, especially males in their 20s and females in their 30s which have a low sports participation rate, and the elderly.
     Further, to secure convenient places for local residents to become familiar with sports and interact with others, MEXT promotes the enhancement of the environment for community sports with a focus on Comprehensive Community Sports Clubs.
     Moreover, MEXT is promoting initiatives to improve physical education and sports club activities in schools, such as through the revision of “Courses of Study,” improvement of physical education and other lessons, and provision of support for sports club activities.
  • Development and reinforcement of top athletes to compete on the world stage, MEXT is aiming to set up a system that develops in an organized and systematic way world-class athletes by providing consistent instruction that will enable them to participate internationally from the junior years, as well as conducting research surveys that focus on the female life cycle.
     Further, MEXT is working to establish a foundation for strengthening / researching activities for top athletes, by upgrading the Japan Institute of Sports Sciences and the National Training Center.
     Moreover, as well as supporting Japan’s bid for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Tokyo, MEXT supports bids for and the staging of international and domestic competitions, jointly sponsoring the National Sports Festival with the Japan Sports Association and the specific hosting prefecture.
     MEXT is also working to set up an environment that allows top athletes to devote themselves to competition by supporting educational activities about the importance of career design, and the development of programs for career building through graduate school.
  • There is a need to remove the barrier between competitive sports and community sports and promote them comprehensively in order to extend the top end and expand the lower end in a coordinated manner. To achieve this, MEXT is establishing systems to create a virtuous cycle for human resources in the sport world, using highly talented people such as top athletes who will travel around community sports clubs and schools.
  • To increase transparency, fairness and equity in the sports industry, MEXT improves governance of sports associations and supports prompt and smooth settlement of sports-related disputes and anti-doping activities.

 Chapter7 Cultivating Nation Building Based on Culture and the Arts

Comprehensive Promotion of Measures Related to The Promotion of Culture and the Arts

In 2001, the “Fundamental Law for the Promotion of Culture and the Arts” was enacted as an all-encompassing law for the promotion of culture and the arts. Founded on the promotion of voluntary activities among those who are engaged in culture and the arts, the law aims to comprehensively implement measures that promote culture and the arts, and to contribute to the spiritual enhancement of people’s lifestyles while invigorating society as a whole.

 Pursuant to the Fundamental Law for the Promotion of Culture and the Arts, the government has formulated the “Basic Policy on the Promotion of Culture and the Arts” (“Basic Policy”) to comprehensively implement initiatives associated with the promotion of culture and the arts. Based on this Basic Policy, the government is working to promote culture and the arts aimed at Nation Building Based on Culture and the Arts.

Circumstances Surrounding Culture and the Arts in Japan

According to the Cabinet Office “Public Opinion Survey on the Life of the People,” the percentage of people who think, “Since my lifestyle has become somewhat affluent in a material sense, in the future I would like to place more importance on a spiritually rich and relaxing lifestyle” has tended to increase in general, reaching around 60% in 2011 (Fig. 2-7-1).

Fig. 2-7-1 Types of Affluence Desired by People

image Fig. 2-7-1 Types of Affluence Desired by People

Fig. 2-7-2 Importance of Cultural and Artistic Experiences / Activities in Everyday Life

image Fig. 2-7-2 Importance of Cultural and Artistic Experiences / Activities in Everyday Life

 Further, according to the Cabinet Office “Public Opinion Survey on Culture” (November 2009), approximately 90 per cent of respondents consider it “extremely important” or “somewhat important” to enjoy fine culture and the arts, and participate in cultural activities themselves in daily life (Fig. 2-7-2).

 Approximately 50 per cent of people cite “enhancement of children’s experiences with culture and the arts” as the issue that they would like the government to focus on in its promotion of culture and the arts. This was followed by the “development of human resources to support culture and the arts” and “support for the maintenance of cultural properties.” Approximately 40 percent of the respondents chose each of these areas (Fig. 2-7-3).

 In line with the Basic Policy, the Agency for Cultural Affairs is implementing measures for the promotion of culture and the arts, including experiences for children to become acquainted and familiar with culture and the arts, human resource development, and the preservation and practical use of cultural properties.

Fig. 2-7-3 Areas Citizens want the Government to Focus on when Promoting Culture and the Arts

image Fig. 2-7-3 Areas Citizens want the Government to Focus on when Promoting Culture and the Arts

 Culture and the arts are passed down from one generation to the next and are a source of joy and inspiration, while at the same time being extremely important as the basis of all Japan’s activities, including the economy and international cooperation.

 Considering the importance of culture and the arts, the Agency for Cultural Affairs will continue to work to promote culture and the arts.

Fundamental Law for the Promotion of Culture and the Arts and the Basic Policy

In response to increasing public demand and so forth for the promotion of culture and the arts, the Fundamental Law for the Promotion of Culture and the Arts was approved by the Diet in November 2001, and was promulgated and enforced in December that year.

 The Law stipulates the basic philosophy regarding the promotion of culture and the arts, such as art, media arts, traditional performing art, lifestyle culture, and cultural property, thus clarifying the obligations of the state and regional public bodies. At the same time, by stipulating the items that form the basis of measures concerning the promotion of culture and the arts, the Law comprehensively promotes measures related to the promotion of culture and the arts by promoting autonomous activities of people who engage in cultural and artistic activities.

 The Basic Policy was formulated by the Japanese government to ensure the comprehensive advancement of measures concerning the promotion of culture and the arts. The Agency for Cultural Affairs has been striving to promote culture and the arts based on the First Basic Policy (approved by the Cabinet in December 2002), the Second Basic Policy (approved by the Cabinet in February 2007), and the Third Basic Policy (approved by the Cabinet on February 8, 2011).

Council for Cultural Affairs

The Council for Cultural Affairs was set up by the Agency for Cultural Affairs following reform of Central Government Ministries and Agencies in January 2001 in order to strengthen policymaking functions for the promotion of culture. The Council for Cultural Affairs studies has set up the Subdivision on National Language, Subdivision on Copyright, Subdivision on Cultural Properties, and Subdivision on Selection of Cultural Awardees, as well as the Cultural Policy Committee, the National Indemnity for Works of Art in Exhibition Committee, and the Intangible Cultural Heritage World Heritage Committee World Cultural Heritage / Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee, that conduct wide-ranging research and deliberations on important matters related to the promotion of culture and the promotion of international cultural exchange.

The Council for Cultural Affairs has published ten reports, which were submitted to the Agency for Cultural Affairs and are being reflected in policy initiatives.

Main Reports

  • “On Building a Society that Values Culture—Toward a Society Where Individuals Enjoy Spiritually Rich Lives (Policy Report),” (April 2002)
  • “Basic Policy on the Promotion of Culture and the Arts (Policy Report),” (December 2002)
  • “On Japanese-Language Proficiency which is Required for the Future (Policy Report),” (February 2004)
  • “On Measures to Support Creative Activities in Performing Arts for the Future (Recommendations),”(February 2004)
  • “On Energizing Japan through Local Culture! (Report),” (February 2005)
  • “A Revision of the Basic Policy on the Promotion of Culture and the Arts (Policy Report),” (February 2007)
  • “Guidelines on Honorific Expressions (Policy Report),” (February 2007)
  • “On the Training and Practical Use of Talent in the Performing Arts (Report),” (July 2009)
  • “Revised Table of Chinese Characters in Common Use (Joyo Kanji Hyo) (Policy Report),” (June 2010)
  • “Basic Policy on the Promotion of Culture and the Arts (Phase Three) (Policy Report),” January 2011

Budgetary and Tax Measures for the Promotion of Culture and the Arts

(Budgetary Measures)

The FY 2011 budget promotes the priority strategies of the Third Basic Policy for Promoting Culture and the Arts (approved by the Cabinet in February 2011) by means of the following key measures: “Creation of rich culture and arts and cultivation of human resources”; “Preservation, utilization, and accession of Japan’s precious cultural properties”; and “Dissemination of Japan’s outstanding culture and arts/Promotion of international cultural exchange.”

 “Creation of rich culture and arts and cultivation of human resources” focused on support for the creative activities of arts organizations and promoted measures such as the Project for Developing the Next Generation of Artists, with a view to providing new support for creative endeavors in culture and the arts as well as the development of artists and other human resources.

 “Preservation, utilization, and accession of Japan’s precious cultural properties” involved carrying out a new project of tourism and local revitalization utilizing cultural assets, by preserving, repairing, and improving the fire prevention facilities of cultural properties, and promoting the maintenance, utilization, and so forth of cultural properties. “Dissemination of Japan’s outstanding culture and arts/Promotion of international cultural exchange” involved (1) strategic dissemination of outstanding performing arts, media arts, and so forth; (2) promoting international cooperation in cultural properties; (3) promotion of Japanese language education for foreigners; and (4) improvement of infrastructure to support dissemination of culture. The “Culture Budget as a Percentage of National Budget” and “Donations as a Percentage of GDP” for Japan and other countries is shown in Fig. 2-7-6.

Fig. 2-7-5 FY 2010 Budget for the Agency for Cultural Affairs (by category)

image Fig. 2-7-5 FY 2010 Budget for the Agency for Cultural Affairs (by category)

Fig. 2-7-4 Cultural Affairs Budget and Amount of Donations (In comparison with those of other countries)

image Fig. 2-7-4 Cultural Affairs Budget and Amount of Donations (In comparison with those of other countries)

(Taxation System)

(1) Taxation system in respect of donations for arts and cultural organizations
In the case of donations made by companies, the donation is generally treated as a deductible expense up to a certain amount. Moreover, donations by individuals to corporate bodies making special contributions to public welfare that fulfill certain conditions, such as some special civil code corporations whose primary objectives include advancing the dissemination of the arts, preserving and utilizing cultural properties, and installing and operating museums, are deductible (as a deduction from taxable income), and such donations by companies and other corporate entities can be included in deductible expenses under separate criteria in addition to the regular deductible amount for donation.

 Concerning donations from individuals specifically, measures have been taken to make it easier to support arts and cultural organizations. For example, from 2007 the limit for donation deductions was raised from 30% to 40% of income, and from 2010 the lower applicable limit for donation deductions was reduced from 5,000 yen to 2,000 yen. Further, in the 2011 tax system revision, tax deductions in respect of donations to authorized nonprofit organizations and certain public service corporations or incorporated foundations were created to realize a society that supports its members through the New Public Commons.

(2) Taxation system in respect of cultural properties
In the area of cultural properties too, preferential tax treatment is given in respect of buildings that are designated, selected, and registered as important cultural properties, and the land they occupy, that is necessary in order for the owners to manage them appropriately as cultural properties. Such preferential tax treatment includes municipal property tax exemption or a 50 percent reduction. Further, in the case where important cultural properties have been transferred to the state, local public body, or other similar entity, these are exempt from income tax (land designated as a place of historic or other interest, receives a special reduction), and buildings (including traditional buildings in registered tangible cultural properties and important traditional building preservation areas) and the land they occupy are written down by a certain percentage when calculating the amount of inheritance tax payable. Further, in FY 2011/2012, a 50% reduction in municipal property tax, real estate acquisition tax, and city planning tax is made in respect of facilities for public performances of important intangible cultural properties owned by public service corporations or incorporated foundations.

 Moreover, in order to promote the exhibition of outstanding works of art in art museums and other museums, works of art that are registered as registered works of art are accepted as payment in kind for inheritance tax.

Chapter8 Expanding International Cultural Exchange and Cooperation

In today’s “global society,” the significance of national borders has blurred due to the heightened mobility of people, things, and money, while mutual dependence between nations has evolved ever deeper. For Japan to enhance its presence, it is important to accelerate the “internationalization of knowledge” that communicates to the international community at large the capabilities that it has cultivated thus far in education, science and technology, culture, and so forth. For this to happen, it is essential that two-way human exchange be revitalized by developing human resources that are able to work in global society and accepting talented students and researchers from overseas.

 In order to develop human resources that are able to work in global society, it is important to cultivate not only language skills but also the creativity that can create new values, as well as the ability to actively communicate one’s own ideas in the international community. However, the recent “inward-looking” trend of young people demonstrated by the recent decline in interest in going abroad to work or study has become a social problem.

 Given these circumstances, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology held the Commission on International Exchange Policy from January 2009, and in the final report compiled in March 2011 made concrete proposals aimed at breaking the inward-looking trend of young people and internationalizing schools. Further, in the “Global Human Resources Development Promotion Council” established in May 2011, the government as a whole considered the measures necessary to develop global human resources in the future, publishing its interim report in June 2011. Based on these suggestions, MEXT is working to develop human resources that meet the needs of the global society by promoting international exchange in a variety of settings.

 Further improvement of international cooperation is also important for Japan to increase its presence in international society. MEXT has established the International Education Cooperation Council for studying means of international cooperation in the field of education and science based on the needs of emerging countries. One way toward international cooperation is to provide Japan’s strengths in education and science, which are highly regarded by developing countries, upon requests from recipient countries. The Council’s interim report compiled in March 2012 cites the importance of international cooperation undertaken as a nationwide effort by involving people from various fields. One example is formulation and implementation of strategies on international cooperation via joint government and private-sector efforts. Another example is creation of synergetic effects enabled by further contribution and cooperation from the business community. MEXT will promote measures for international cooperation that are more strategic than before.

 Through the above measures, MEXT is further enhancing international exchanges and cooperation.

Chapter9 Promoting the Utilization of Information and Communication Technology

With the rapid advances in the information society, the creation of new schools and learning systems suitable for the 21st century that take full advantage of the features of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in school education has become an important issue. For this reason, in April 2011 the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology compiled “The Vision for ICT in Education”, a comprehensive policy to promote the utilization of ICT in education (Visit: http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/houdou/23/04/1305484.htm). This was compiled on the basis of the investigations made by the “Conference on the Use of ICT in Primary and Secondary Education” (chaired by Yuichiro Anzai [President of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science]).

 This vision cites the “information literacy” as the ability that will be required of children living in the 21st century, as the knowledge-based society and globalization advances. In order to provide education that fosters this ability, it is important to take full advantage of the features of ICT (i.e., being free from time and spatial restrictions, having interactivity, and enabling easy customization) in schools, which are the major places for children’s learning and daily life. Utilizing ICT in a manner that makes the most of its features by equipping schools with digital textbooks and other materials, as well as information terminals in well-arranged network environments, makes it possible to promote individualized learning responding to each child’s abilities and personality, and collaborative learning where children can teach and learn among themselves, along with conventional mass learning by class guidance.

 The vision aims to steadily promote the informatization of education with the aim of promoting individualized learning and collaborative learning. The main initiatives it advocates to accomplish this are cultivating children’s information literacy, the utilization of ICT in places of learning, the informatization of school administration, the utilization of ICT in special needs education, and support for teachers.

Fig. 2-9-1 Example of a Learning Environment Suitable for the 21st Century and Learning Based Thereon

image Fig. 2-9-1 Example of a Learning Environment Suitable for the 21st Century and Learning Based Thereon

Chapter10 Building Safe and High-Quality School Facilities

School facilities are a basic educational requirement, and maintaining safe, comfortable, and high-quality school facilities that can be adapted to diversified learning activities is essential for maintaining and improving educational levels appropriate to the developmental stage of the children.

 In the Great East Japan Earthquake, earthquake-resistant school facilities protected the lives of students from collapsing buildings. Further, school facilities play an important role in the community, with many serving as temporary evacuation shelters for local residents.

 The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is working on establishing guidelines and compiling examples to help in maintaining school facilities and ensuring that school officials are aware of these materials. The government is also providing subsidies for buildings which require improvements for the education environment due to insufficient earthquake-resistance or aging. MEXT additionally promotes the improvement of school facilities to achieve minimal environmental impact as a global warming countermeasure.

 Further, facilities of national universities form the essential foundation for the development of increasingly sophisticated and diversified education and research activities, and it is important to strive to improve these in order to cultivate creative human resources, promote unique and diverse academic research, and provide highly advanced medical services.

 Also, as well as providing support for the prioritized and systematic improvement of facilities at national universities, and so forth, MEXT also drives the maintenance and improvement of the campus environment that supports education and research activities at universities and other institutions through the promotion of facility management and other efforts.

Fig. 2-10-1 Safe and High-quality School Facilities

image Fig. 2-10-1 Safe and High-quality School Facilities

Chapter11 Enhancing Disaster Prevention Measures

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology formulated the MEXT Disaster Prevention Operation Plan based on the Disaster Countermeasures Basic Act and other legislation to ensure the safety and security of schoolchildren. Initiatives taken include promoting accident prevention by improving disaster prevention education and strengthening disaster prevention functions of school facilities; promoting emergency disaster control measures; and promoting research and development in respect of disaster prevention and support for disaster reconstruction.

 Further, MEXT has taken atomic disaster prevention measures such as establishing and maintaining centers for emergency response measures (off-site centers) and conducting disaster drills.

 In spite of this initiative, the Great East Japan Earthquake and accident at the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 Nuclear power plants that occurred on March 11, 2011 wreaked damage on an unprecedented scale largely centered on three prefectures in Tohoku. Therefore, there is a need to investigate the problems with Japan’s disaster prevention measures that were brought to light by this major disaster and how these should be improved. MEXT will review its previous initiatives and work to further improve disaster prevention measures.

(For initiatives taken following the earthquake see Part 1, “Recovery and Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake.”)

Chapter12 Promotion of Administrative Reform and Policy Evaluations, etc

Administrative reform has become a policy issue from the perspective of revising the state of Japan’s administration through two Ad Hoc Commissions on Administrative Reform (first: 1961–1964, second: 1981–1984) and three Ad hoc Administrative Reform Promotion Councils (1983–1993), as well as through the Administrative Reform Council that embarked on the reorganization of central government ministries and agencies.

 Against this backdrop, the Government Revitalization Unit was established within the Cabinet Office in September 2009 in order to reform the overall national administration, including the budget and system of national administration, from the people’s standpoint, and also to review the division of roles among the national government, local public authorities, and private companies.

 Further, in order to implement administrative reforms by the government as a whole, in January 2012 the Headquarters for Administrative Reform Implementation comprising all members of the cabinet was set up. These bodies are responsible for advancing a variety of reforms.

 MEXT has worked to enhance the efficiency of its operations and the effectiveness of its budget, and such revisions are reflected in the debates on administrative reforms by the government as a whole.

 Further, when making such revisions, our perspective should be that of proactively revising our own policies while responding to the effects of existing policies and later changes in socioeconomic circumstances.

 Through the Policy Assessment System and the Independent Administrative Agency Evaluation System introduced in 2001, MEXT has carried out a rigorous and objective review of the need for each of the operations of independent administrative agencies and for individual policies, and of their effectiveness and efficiency, and carried out constant reviews based on those results. By doing so, it aims to establish a management cycle that incorporates the measurement and assessment of results (Check), and the reflection of those results in the following plan (Action), in addition to the elements of “Plan” and “Do” that currently exist in administration.

 By taking thorough initiatives for assessment and ensuring that the results are fully disclosed, in addition to realizing efficient and high-quality administrative management, MEXT is fulfilling its accountability obligations to the public.

 The areas of education, culture, sports, science and technology for which MEXT is responsible are somewhat inflexible in response to financial conditions and at the same time there is a need to evaluate its accomplishments from a medium term perspective. In view of this, measures are required that are based on government policy as a whole, while at the same time being sensitive to the particular nature of the areas involved.

 Accordingly, MEXT has been implementing administrative reform, policy assessment, and evaluation of incorporated administrative agencies, aimed at improving and reviewing administrative operations related to education, science, and technology.

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Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau Policy Planning and Coordination Division

(Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau Policy Planning and Coordination Division)

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