Part II :Trends and Development in Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Policies

General Overview

* As a general rule, the descriptions in Part 2 are based on trends up to fiscal 2018, but a part of the descriptions are based on trends and statistical data up to June 2019.

Chapter 1 Steady Promotion of Education Rebuilding

Today, “Education Rebuilding” is an important issue for the government. The Council for the Implementation of Education Rebuilding set up at the Cabinet Secretariat has made 11 recommendations on this issue. The Central Council for Education that is an advisory council to the Minister of MEXT also discussed important issues concerning promotion of education and submitted reports, etc. In light of these recommendations and discussions and in the spirit of the Basic Act on Education, MEXT is promoting measures for education rebuilding based on the Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education.
 Section 1 of this chapter introduces discussions on education rebuilding at the Central Council for Education and Council for the Implementation of Education Rebuilding. Section 2 introduces the 3rd Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education that was decided by the cabinet in June 2018. Lastly, Section 3 introduces activities of the National Institute for Educational Policy Research, a national research institute for comprehensive research on educational policies.

Chapter 2 Progress in Reconstruction and Revitalization from the Damage Inflicted by the Great East Japan Earthquake

The Great East Japan Earthquake with a maximum seismic intensity of seven occurred on March 11, 2011. The earthquake caused an extensive tsunami on the Pacific coast and this gigantic tsunami led to significant damage, particularly along the Pacific coast in the Tohoku and Kanto regions. In addition, accidents occurred at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant causing radioactive material to be released. The disasters caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the associated nuclear power plant accident are called “the Great East Japan Earthquake” based on the cabinet agreement on April 1, 2011.
 Eight years have now elapsed since the earthquake. MEXT is working closely with the disaster victims in the damaged areas toward reconstruction and recovery from the earthquake disaster and revitalization of the areas by implementing measures such as the recovery of school facilities and financial support for attendance at school, providing mental health care for students, developing expert human resources who will support reconstruction, revitalizing the region by the support of universities and institutes and facilitating the nuclear damage compensation, etc.

Chapter 3 Creating a Lifelong Learning Society

Generally, lifelong learning refers to learning that takes place throughout the life of an individual at diverse places, and opportunities such as school education, education at home, social education, cultural activities, sport activities, recreation activities, volunteer activities, in-house training at companies, and hobbies. The phrase “lifelong learning society” is used to indicate a society in which people can choose learning opportunities and learn anywhere and at any time, and in which their learning outcomes are assessed appropriately.
 Article 3 of the Basic Act on Education provides that “A society must be brought into being in which the people can continue to learn throughout their lives, on all occasions and in all places, and in which they can suitably apply the outcomes of their lifelong learning to refine themselves and lead fulfilling lives.” as the ideal of lifelong learning.
 Based on the Act and the 3rd Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education, MEXT is now conducting efforts promoting lifelong learning in the 100-year life era to maximize possibilities and opportunities for each person throughout their lives, which include consideration of methods of social education for new community development and promotion of re-learning by adults to acquire knowledge and skills necessary for their occupations throughout their lives.

Chapter 4 Improving Elementary and Secondary Education

The purpose of education is to perfect the character of each child. Education is indispensable for ensuring that children lead happy lives in the future. Education has another mission of fostering individuals who will lead the country and society in the future. The importance of education will remain unaltered no matter how the times might change. The importance of education has risen even more in recent years, in response to the rapid changes experienced by Japanese society, such as globalization, the emergence of a knowledge-based society, and the aging society with fewer children.
 In order to improve children’s education under these conditions, MEXT is taking the following diverse measures aimed at securing educational opportunities and improving educational levels by:

  • Realizing the education that the National Curriculum Standards aim for
  • Promoting science education to develop scientific and technological personnel
  • Improving education toward developing global human resources
  • Promoting career education and vocational education
  • Promoting the reforms of high school education
  • Improving textbooks
  • Addressing various problems in the student guidance such as bullying and non-attendance at school
  • Improving moral education
  • Promoting human rights education
  • Keeping children healthy and safe
  • Improving the quality and ability of teachers and other personnel, and establishing a teaching system to achieve flexible and high quality education
  • Promoting early childhood education nurturing the foundation for lifelong character
  • Promoting special needs education in accordance with the educational needs of each child with disabilities
  • Improving local educational administration and community-based school development
  • Improving financial support for pre-school children and students, and many other measures

Chapter 5 Improving Higher Education

Confronted with rapid changes including globalization and an aging society with fewer children, Japan must now achieve social structural reforms aimed at a dynamic and sustainable society. Universities and other higher education institutions must take the initiative and carry out university reforms that live up to national and social expectations while recognizing their grave responsibility for finding dependable answers to the issues confronting Japan and its people.
 Based on the discussions at the Council for the Implementation of Education Rebuilding and the Central Council for Education, MEXT is working for steady realization of higher education reform, an area where Japan can afford no further delay. In addition, MEXT will promote a range of initiatives to diversify developments in higher education such as training medical staff, lawyers and other specialists, strengthening the functions of university hospitals as centers for regional medical care, establishment of professional and vocational universities (PVU) as higher education institutions that provide practical vocational education to train professionals, and improving colleges of technology and professional training colleges.
 Furthermore, MEXT is further expanding Scholarship Loans and supporting reductions or exemptions of tuition and enrollment fees carried out by universities and others to prevent talented and motivated students from abandoning their studies for economic reasons, and also supports job-hunting activities and improvements to career education.

Chapter 6 Promoting Private Schools

The ratio of students enrolled in private schools is approximately 70% 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 a society based on global knowledge, private schools are required to promote distinctive education and research in accordance with the increasingly diverse demands of its people, with each actively conducting unique activities based on their own philosophies. Private schools thus play important roles, both qualitatively and quantitatively in the development of Japan’s school education.
 Accordingly, by establishing the “enhancement of the education research base of private schools” as one of the measures in the Third Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education, MEXT positions the strengthening of private schools’ education research bases as an important policy goal. Specifically, it strives to maintain and improve private schools’ educational and research conditions and reduce the financial burden of learning for students enrolled in them. At the same time, MEXT implements promotional measures as it strives to improve the functions of private schools. These measures are: (1) providing financial support for ordinary expenses such as the cost of labor for teachers and other personnel and expenditures related to education and research, and subsidizing the budget for improving facilities; (2) offering loans by the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation for Private Schools of Japan; (3) providing tax support measures; (4) providing support for management of incorporated educational institutions; and (5) improvement of the incorporated educational institution system.
 By making independent efforts to maintain and strengthen their management bases and actively disclose information about their education and research as well as their financial status, private schools are expected to create unique and attractive schools that respond to the demands of the public.

Chapter 7 Comprehensive Promotion of the Policy on Science and Technology

MEXT promotes science and technology (S&T) in coordination with relevant ministries under the basic strategies of the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation chaired by the Prime Minister. MEXT plans, devises and promotes basic policies on science and technology, formulates and promotes concrete plans on research and development, and coordinates with other relevant administrative organs.
 Japan is facing various types of challenges, such as reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, dealing with the aging society with a declining birthrate and the relative weakening of international competitiveness due to the rise of emerging countries. Creating innovation with S&T is essential in order to resolve these challenges and bolster Japan’s society and economy. Based on the recognition of this state of affairs, the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan was formulated in January 2016 under the Abe Cabinet’s policy of making Japan “the most innovation- friendly country in the world”. This is a comprehensive five-year plan concerning the promotion of S&T which also considers the prospects for the next ten years.
 According to the Plan, MEXT will pursue a wide range of initiatives to steadily link the results of science, technology and innovation*1 to the creation of new industries and the solution of economic and social issues.

Chapter 8 Establishing Japan as a Sporting Nation

According to the Basic Act on Sport, enacted in 2011, sport is “a universally shared human culture [that is] crucial for citizens to lead a healthy and fulfilled life in terms of mind and body throughout their lifetime. Living life happily and fruitfully through sport is the right of all citizens.” The Act also positions sport as something that performs roles in a wide variety of aspects of the everyday life of citizens including the fostering of mentally and physically sound young people, the rebuilding of local communities, maintaining and improving mental and physical health, the creation of social and economic vitality, and improving Japan’s international status.
 In order to make a reality of the ethos of the Basic Act on Sport, the Japan Sports Agency not only promotes the improvement of Japan’s international competitiveness in sports but also seeks through sport to promote a healthy lifestyle, local and economic revitalization, international exchange and cooperation, promotion of para- sports, improvement of physical education and so on, with the comprehensive and integrated advancement of sport administration in unison with other related governmental ministries and agencies and private enterprises.
 In 2019 we will have the Rugby World Cup (RWC2019) followed by the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 (Tokyo 2020 Games). The Japan Sports Agency is also working for the success of the games.

Chapter 9 Cultivating Nation Based on Culture and the Arts

The Agency for Cultural Affairs is working for enhancement of functions for comprehensive cultural administration and full-scale relocation to Kyoto. Specifically, the Agency is implementing various measures to improve creation, development, succession and education of culture and the arts, realize an inclusive society through culture and art, create innovations and build national brands. Other initiatives include: promotion of measures for Japanese language and Japanese language education, measures for copyright and operation of the religious juridical persons system.

Chapter 10 Improving International Exchange and Cooperation

In the midst of a situation in which the globalization of society and economies is progressing and the environment surrounding international society and Japan is rapidly changing, it is imperative that Japan further enriches its interaction and cooperation with other nations in order to ensure sound growth and make Japan an attractive country.
 So as to achieve these objectives, MEXT continuously promotes two-way international interaction through the fostering of human resources who can play a part on the international stage, and the strategic acceptance of excellent students and researchers from overseas. Furthermore, based on the government’s diplomatic direction of taking a bird’s eye view of the globe, international cooperation initiatives are being strengthened in the areas of education, science and technology, sports and culture according to the needs of all the other countries and regions. Specific efforts by the Minister of MEXT include attending international conferences and meeting key persons of various countries and regions (Table 2-10-1). In addition to a variety of initiatives in cooperation with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations University and other international organizations, MEXT is collaborating in education featuring Japanese-style education, an area which has caught the attention of many other nations in recent years, and bringing together government agencies, the private sector and other actors.
 In order to work on improving the quality of education in tandem with other nations, MEXT collaborates with other governments and international organizations such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to implement various activities including the promotion of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
 In addition, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in 2015, the SDGs Promotion Headquarters headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was launched in May 2016 to take all government initiatives that would lead the world toward achieving the SDGs. Under close cooperation of concerned ministries and agencies, MEXT implements programs aiming at achieving the SDGs.
 MEXT is strategically pursuing further improvements to international interaction and cooperation through these various initiatives.

Chapter 11 Promoting the Use of Information and Communication Technology

Today we are in a great social transformation including the advent of Society 5.0. The term “Society 5.0” suggests almost “discontinuous” dramatic change of society where artificial intelligence (AI), big data, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and other frontier technologies are further advanced and introduced to every industry and area of social life. In Society 5.0, advanced technologies including AI may change ways of education and learning. For children it is quite natural to use information communication technologies (ICT) in various scenes of everyday life. It is increasingly important for them to acquire “information literacy” as a basic capacity to choose and use information and information means independently and cultivate the capability to respond to the information society.

Chapter 12 Building Safe, Secure and High-Quality School Facilities

School facilities are one of the basics for education, thus securing their safety and comfort to improve educational standards, and building safe, secure and quality school facilities, which can respond to each student’s developmental stage, are crucial. It is also essential to be adapted to diverse learning activities well, responding to changes in educational content and methods in accordance with changes in social conditions and regional characteristics.
 At the same time, making school facilities earthquake resistant and reinforcing their disaster prevention functions are also extremely important since the facilities should offer shelter to local residents in times of disaster*1. When the Great East Japan Earthquake and the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes hit Japan, earthquake-resistant school facilities did not collapse, and protected the lives of pupils, students and local people.
 Building environmental-friendly facilities and maintaining rapidly aging facilities (lifespan extension of school facilities, etc.) are also issues to be considered.

In order to address these issues, MEXT has prepared guidelines and collections of past examples and made them available to school providers to help them maintain school facilities. At the same time, MEXT is providing national subsidies to programs for maintaining school facilities, including projects for making facilities earthquake resistant and measures for maintaining aging facilities*2.
 Additionally, facilities at national university corporations are foundations indispensable for developing educational research activities currently undergoing the processes of sophistication and diversification. The improvement of these facilities is essential for developing human resources with high creativity, undertaking original and diverse scientific research, and offering highly advanced medical treatment. MEXT is promoting the prioritized and planned maintenance of facilities at national university corporations. At the same time, MEXT is working on the development and betterment of campus environments that support educational research activities through the promotion of facility management and utilizing diverse sources of finance.

*1 For strengthening disaster prevention functions please refer to Part 2 Chapter 13.
*2 For improving/maintaining facilities of private schools, please refer to Part 2, Chapter 6, Section 1

Chapter 13 Enhancing Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Measures

The promotion of comprehensive and systematic disaster prevention measures is required in order to make prompt and appropriate responses to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, severe rain, tornados, heavy snow and volcanic eruptions.
 MEXT has taken initiatives for disaster prevention and mitigation measures to ensure the safety and security of students, such as the improvement of disaster prevention education and the reinforcement of disaster prevention functions of school facilities, for advancing emergency measures in response to disasters, for supporting disaster recovery, and for promoting research and development related to disaster prevention and mitigation.

Chapter 14 Promoting Administrative Reforms and Policy Evaluation

The Japanese government set up the Administrative Reform Promotion Headquarters, in which all Cabinet members participated, in January 2013, in order to achieve the administration of the Japanese government rationally and efficiently, and in a manner focused on citizens and based on the demands of the times. The whole government is advancing administrative reforms of various types at present. MEXT has also enhanced the efficiency of its operations and budgets and promoted their effective application.
 In promoting effective and efficient administration, the government is asked to proactively reconsider its policies in response to effects generated by existing policies and subsequent changes in social and economic conditions. MEXT has evaluated individual policies and the operations of incorporated administrative agencies objectively and strictly from various viewpoints, including necessity, effectiveness and efficiency, through the Policy Evaluation System and the Incorporated Administrative Agency Evaluation System. MEXT has revised the policies and operations constantly, based on the verification results. By continuing to push ahead with such revisions, MEXT is aiming to promote and use a cyclic-type administrative control (the PDCA cycle), measurement and evaluation of results (Check), their reflection on subsequent planning and designing (Action), in addition to planning and designing (Plan) and execution (Do) in administration. MEXT is working to perform its obligation to provide explanation to citizens by publicizing the evaluation results of the policy evaluation and incorporated administrative agencies on its website*1 and through other means.
 The nature of policies in the fields of education, science and technology, sports, and culture and the arts, which fall under the jurisdiction of MEXT, makes it difficult to either expand or reduce projects according to financial circumstances, and the results in these fields also tend to emerge over medium- to long term periods. MEXT is asked to evaluate these fields carefully, taking those points into consideration.

*1 For the evaluation results of the policy evaluation and incorporated administrative agencies, please refer to the MEXT website:


Education Policy Bureau Policy Division

(Education Policy Bureau Policy Division)