1.Meaning of educational policies

Social effects of education

Education forms an individual’s foundation for social independence and helps him/her achieve happiness in life (e.g., by providing the knowledge, skills, and sociality for decreasing unemployment risks, increasing income, and enhancing health). Furthermore, the effects of education are seen, not only in one’s personal life, but also in one’s contribution to society (e.g., stimulating the economy by expanding the intellectual stocks of the entire society, narrowing economic disparity through fair income distribution, ensuring social stability, solving social problems, increasing tax revenues, reducing public expenditures, and promoting further intellectual activities). Given the above, well-formed education should include public aspects such as safety nets, as well as investments in the future, to ensure each individual’s social participation.

Purposes of educational policies

Because the public aspects of education are increasing in tough social circumstances, we need to maximize the social effects of education with a certain level of involvement and educational costs in the public sectors. Maximizing the social effects of education to “equalize educational opportunities” and to “maintain and/or raise educational standards” is the most important goal of educational policies and one that must remain unchanged at all levels of education.

However, the specific measures that are enacted should be continuously and appropriately reviewed and altered in response to changes in society and demands of the times. Particularly under the current fast-changing social situations, individualized and field-oriented measures must be taken, as uniform ones are not effective for the diverse educational demands of both individuals and the society or for each local situation. Keeping this in mind, in order to enhance educational abilities throughout society, we must clarify the scope of each responsible actor in both the private sector (i.e., households, local communities, and companies) and the public sector (i.e., national and local governments). From there, these entities need to share the ideals of education and collaborate to achieve their goals.

According to the points discussed above, in the Second Basic Plan, we review and define the details of national measures to materialize the Four Basic Directions for independence, collaboration, and creativity, taking into account the current state of education and characteristics of each educational opportunity.

2.Common principles to materialize the Four Basic Policy Directions

It is necessary to consider the following points in-depth as common principles to materialize the four basic policy directions, and to implement specific measures in order to achieve the desired goals.

(1)Respect for diversity in education

In a mature society with diverse values and lifestyles, individuals should be able to maximize various abilities and personal qualities throughout their lives as a means to participate in society by communicating with diverse people, under normative consciousness and a public spirit, avoiding misplaced individualism.
Therefore, to equalize educational opportunities and raise educational standards, we need not only to implement common and unified measures, but also to vary the method of education. For example, individuals should have the freedom to choose from among several educational opportunities and select their own measures for success. In addition, the entire system must function to keep education flexible but coherent.

For example, education that enables all students to collaborate despite their differences in philosophy, gender, generation, and nationality will be important. It is also imperative to establish the contents, methods, venues, and schedule/times of education in accordance with differences in individuals’ personalities, capabilities, life directions, and social environments such as family circumstances. That is, the conditions of education must be considered from the viewpoint of differences in local communities’ economy, finance, and culture. During the implementation of specific measures based on the premises mentioned above, the points noted in Sections IV-2-(2) to IV-2-(4) must be respected as well.

(2)Vertical connections for the lifelong learning society

For the materialization of a lifelong learning society based on diversity in which independence, collaboration, and creativity are premised, education in each stage of school and at each age must be considered as a sequence with the axes of the Four Basic Directions mentioned in Section III, not as separated stages. In that sense, the involved entities must collaborate and take responsibility for their own functions and roles.

Therefore, as we focus on smoothing the connections among home education, early childhood education, and education at each school, or connections between school education and social life (e.g., working life), we need to provide better educational environments, including diverse educational systems, that allow flexible educational opportunities to respond to the situations of local communities and schools. Furthermore, learning systems that meet all learners must be systematically provided with adequate learning opportunities in every life stage: e.g., support for parents of small children to learn about at-home education and learning opportunities for retired people to live healthy, fulfilling, and safe lives in their old age.

Thus, we aim to materialize a society that allows all its members to access high quality education and learning opportunities. They should be able to choose appropriate measures or methods for themselves to obtain the knowledge and skills they need throughout their lives, from early childhood to old age.

(3)Horizontal cooperation and collaboration throughout society, according to the responsibilities of each sector

The roles of the private sectors will gain importance. These roles include private companies and NPOs offering free and creative educational services and private companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) departments engaging in educational activities.(*1) This is due to the need for educational and learning requirements to be met in various communities, in order to establish essential foundations for social life and create opportunities for collaboration with others.
Therefore, the national government will support relevant independent and autonomic activities.

In addition, the national government will promote the reinforcement of educational functionalities in the field of public education. Public education in the schools and social education facilities are essentially responsible for securing educational opportunities based on public demands, such as fundamental education for general citizens and the development of high level knowledge and ability, which the market mechanisms may not sufficiently provide.

In sum, all members of the society, including schools, parents and guardians of children, local residents, and companies, as well as national and local governments, are responsible for education. They each play a role in the community’s cooperation and collaboration to create an environment that enhances the educational abilities of the society as a whole.

Here, it is important to address the formation of appropriate environments. The process of formation includes establishing networks and improving educational management in order to implement different types of measures that respond to individuals’ diverse needs.

 *1 Generally, this means the corporations’ voluntary activities for its sustainable development outside of the financial field, which include legal compliance, consumer protection, environmental protection, labor, respect for human rights, and contributions to the local community.

Roles of the government

 Accordingly, the roles of the government are defined as follows:

  • to establish systems and give financial support to equalize educational opportunities and raise educational standards;
  • to provide learning opportunities, such as education in schools and social education facilities, and to enhance the functions of these opportunities;
  • to prepare sufficient educational statistics; to collect, analyze, and publish information on education; and to develop and diffuse educational methods;
  • to increase the efficacy of various educational achievements in society;
  • to establish coordinative systems and networks for connections and collaboration among the governments and entities in the private sector; and
  • to raise awareness of education within society and to create a platform for sharing ideas.

Connection with other policy fields

Also, educational policies should be closely connected to other policy fields. The various kinds of social problems mentioned in Section I-2 are unlikely to be resolved through educational policies. Rather, educational policies play important roles in preventing such problems. Therefore, the relevant ministries must collaborate to maintain consistency between each policy field. Examples of relevant policies are listed below.

  • Policies for children and youth (e.g., sound development)
  • Welfare policies for the elderly and disabled (e.g., support for finding meaning in life, social security)
  • Environmental policies (e.g., raising awareness of ways to protect the environment)
  • Consumer policies (e.g., development of independent consumers)
  • Tax policies (e.g., raising awareness of the tax system)
  • Labor policies (e.g., connection between school life and work life)
  • Industrial policies (e.g., development of human resources for new industries)
  • Policies for science, technology, and academic fields (e.g., education and research at universities/colleges)
  • Policies for disaster prevention in local communities (e.g., creation of disaster prevention bases centered in schools or other facilities)
  • Local community development policies (e.g., the roles schools or citizens’ public halls)

(4)Collaboration between the national and local governments for revitalization of the educational sector

To implement educational administration, it is important that we provide a good environment to elicit initiatives and creativity from educational venues for optimum measures, according to the different situations or needs of each local community, while at the same time equalizing educational opportunities and raising educational standards.
Therefore, this Basic Plan is determined as follows.

  1. The national government is to show clarified strategic targets and prepare a foundation for these targets as the national standards.
  2. The implementation of education is to be left to the municipalities, including cities, towns and villages, who are the owners of educational facilities such as schools, as much as possible. Various human resources should be involved in educational activities. However, if the municipalities face difficulties implementing education (e.g., due to their small size), the national and prefectural governments should provide the necessary support, complementing their efforts.
  3. Systems should be established that allow the nation, local governments, and schools, respectively, to review and share information about educational achievements, for the purpose of improving education for all.

Sharing this goal, the national and local governments should collaborate to determine the appropriate allocation of roles and address their own policies. The measures to be taken by the national government will be described in the second part of this Basic Plan.

Roles of the national government

The national government is ultimately responsible for the nationwide equalization of educational opportunities and raising the educational standard. This Basic Plan defines the national government’s roles as below.

  • To set a framework of a foundational scheme on education
  • To set national standards (e.g., standards for the establishment of schools, the Course of Study, legal standards for class sizes, and guidelines for the staffing levels of teachers and other personnel)
  • To assist in the satisfaction of educational conditions (e.g., government subvention for improving facilities; teacher and staff salaries; and the collection, analysis, and publication of nationwide data)
  • To assist in the appropriate implementation of education (e.g., instructions, advice, support, development of educational methods, and training)
  • To approve of the establishment of universities and financial support
  • To initiate the promotion of education directed at the entire society (e.g., creation of stakeholder networks and awareness-raising in society)

Roles of the local government

On the other hand, the local governments are directly responsible for regional educational arrangements and school operation, based on the principles of organizational autonomy and residential autonomy. The nation has encouraged transferring authority to the local governments so that they can sufficiently take responsibilities for the roles listed below. The national government, from now on, will pay particular attention to collaboration with local communities and promote the creation of beneficial environments for eliciting local creativity.

  • Prefectural governments
    - To offer educational activities that require regional operation; and to establish and manage universities/colleges and upper secondary schools
    - To assist in providing adequate educational conditions in municipalities
    - To assist measures for educational activities in municipalities (e.g., instructions, advice, and aid)
  • Municipal governments
    - To establish and manage schools and other learning facilities
    - To implement educational activities (e.g., support for school operation)

3.Methods of educational investment

Meanings of educational investment

As stated in Section IV-1, the outcomes and applications of education do not belong just to the individual; they are returned to the entire society through the contributions of educated people. Therefore, investment in education is also investment in the foundation of development for individuals and society.

Also, as stated in Section I, the nation’s declining birthrate and aging society are expected to progress further and have implications in the near future. Faced with a decline in the productive age population, in order for Japan to secure sustainable development, we need to transition to a society of lifelong engagement, with the participation of all citizens, in which all members of the society, including the youth, women, elderly, and disabled, play their own role. In other words, we must form a society in which diverse people learn from many opportunities throughout their lives and return the educational outcomes to society. This will lead to an increase in social participation as well as maximize each individual’s skills and ability to apply those skills in a practical way. The whole society needs to share a critical consciousness and support the educational reforms, as education is a necessary component of “social security in the first half of life.”

To do this, we need to understand that educational investment includes public expenditures by the national and local governments, expenditures from households, and various forms of donation. In a broader sense, it also includes the voluntary efforts of private organizations, human contributions (e.g., volunteers as social capital), and CSR practices. Particularly today, schools need to play an increasing number of roles because the educational functions of non-school entities, including local communities, have been weakened. In line with these facts, we call for the promotion of sufficient educational investment to be achieved by the whole society contributing to the creation of an environment that supports education.

Please note that the effects of “investment” mentioned here include both social and economic effects: e.g., increasing incomes and tax revenues, improving economic and industrial international competences, lowering expenditures such as social security costs, cultivating knowledge/skills and normative consciousness, securing social stability and unity, and improving social security. Further, a broader range of direct or indirect effects is expected from the investment.

Situation of educational investment after the First Basic Plan

The First Basic Plan described the direction of educational investments for a decade to realize the educational visions, as “it is necessary to take financial measures to secure educational investments, partly referring to the situations of educational investments such as public financial expenditures in the OECD countries.”

In responding to this, Japan has faced financial difficulties; however, the government has secured the necessary finances and implemented various measures (e.g., strengthening the earthquake resistance of school facilities, improving the staffing levels of teachers and other personnel, introducing tuition-free public upper secondary schools and upper secondary school tuition support funds, offering reductions or waivers of tuition and enrollment fees, and expanding scholarship loan programs). However, some problems remain, and efforts to achieve the educational visions of the First Basic Plan are ongoing.

In addition, public expenditure only for educational institutions as a percentage of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 3.6%, compared to an average of 5.4% in the OECD countries. If including expenditures for other than educational institutions, it is 3.8% of GDP in Japan while 5.8% of GDP in the OECD countries (as of FY 2009).(*2)

It is difficult to reach conclusions quickly based only on such data, as various elements, including the percentage of students within the total population, total public expenditure and national burden rate, and size of the GDP, should be considered.(*3) Also, in the term for the Second Basic Plan, measures to resolve existing educational problems must be considered in the government’s response to the voices of the nation.

 *2 Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP (FY2009)

  • Public expenditure on educational institutions
    - Total for all levels of education-Japan: 3.6% (3.5%); OECD average: 5.4% (5.0%)
    - Pre-primary education-Japan: 0.1% (0.1%); OECD average: 0.5% (0.4%)
    - Primary, secondary, and post-secondary non-tertiary education-Japan: 2.7% (2.7%); OECD average: 3.7 % (3.6%)
    - Tertiary education-Japan: 0.5% (0.5%); OECD average: 1.1% (1.0%)
  • Total public expenditure on education consists of direct public expenditure on educational institutions plus public subsidies to households and other private entities.
    - Total for all levels of education-Japan: 3.8% (3.6%); OECD average: 5.8% (5.4%)
    - Pre-primary education-Japan: 0.1%; OECD average: 0.6%
    - Primary, secondary, and post-secondary non-tertiary education-Japan: 2.7% (2.7%); OECD average: 3.8 % (3.7%)
    - Tertiary education-Japan: 0.8% (0.7%); OECD average: 1.4% (1.3%)
    *Figures in parentheses ( ) show the latest values for FY2004 published when the First Basic Plan was developed.
    Source: OECD, Education at a Glance 2012

 Public expenditure on education per student (FY2009) (in equivalent U.S. dollars converted using PPPs for GDP)

  • Public expenditure on educational institutions
    - Total for all levels of education-Japan: US$7,405; OECD average: US$7,407
    - Pre-primary education-Japan: US$2,565; OECD average: US$5,379
    - Primary, secondary, and post-secondary non- tertiary education-Japan: US$7,779; OECD average: US$7,745
    - Tertiary education-Japan: US$6,102; OECD average: US$8,810
  • Total public expenditure on education
    - Total for all levels of education-Japan: US$7,838; OECD average: US$8,274
    - Pre-primary education-Japan: US$2,565; OECD average: US$5,523
    - Primary, secondary, and post-secondary non- tertiary education-Japan: US$7,779; OECD average: US$8,188
    - Tertiary education-Japan: US$8,416; OECD average: US$11,735
    Source: OECD Statistics

 Relative proportions of public and private expenditures on educational institutions (FY2009) 

  • Pre-primary education
    - Japan-Public sources: 45.0%; Private sources: 55.0% (38.3% from household expenditure)
    - OECD average-Public sources: 81.7%; Private sources: 18.3%
  • Primary, secondary, and post-secondary non- tertiary education
    - Japan-Public sources: 90.4%; Private sources: 9.6% (7.7% from household expenditure)
    - OECD average-Public sources: 91.2%; Private sources: 8.8%
  • Tertiary education
    - Japan-Public sources: 35.3%; Private sources: 64.7% (50.7% from household expenditure)
    - OECD average-Public sources: 70.0%; Private sources: 30.0%
    Source: OECD, Education at a Glance 2012

 *3 Percentage of all students (all levels of education) in the total population (FY2009)
Japan: 16.8%; OECD average: 23.5% (Source: OECD Statistics)

 National burden rate and tax burden rate (for income) (Japan: data from 2009; OECD average: data from 2009 or 2008)

  • National burden rate-Japan: 38.3%; OECD average: 49.8%
  • Tax burden rate-Japan: 22.0%; OECD average: 34.8%

Main sources: Government of Japan, Cabinet Office, National Accounts
OECD, Revenue Statistics 1965-2010, National Accounts 2003-2010

Demands and directions for educational investment by educational stage

Preschool education is important to form the foundation of an individual’s personality throughout life, and the effects of investment are expected to be higher for this education stage than for other stages. Therefore, high quality education must be secured for preschool education.
Taking into account the importance of early childhood education, some countries have begun to offer tuition-free programs. It is necessary to consider the national burden rate; however, Japan’s burden of educational costs on household budgets(*4) (see also footnote 12) has been pointed out to be heavy, and this is an important issue, especially from the viewpoint of the declining birthrate. Under this circumstance, financial resources and systems for addressing free early childhood education should be comprehensively reviewed, given that new policies related to children and assistance for childcare are expected.
One remaining issue is the need to enhance the teaching system to ensure high quality early childhood education for all children.

The purpose of compulsory education is to cultivate foundations of social independence and the basic capability to function as a member of the nation and society, as well as to develop each individual’s abilities. The national government is responsible for ensuring the basic conditions for compulsory education, including equalization of opportunities, the educational standard, and a tuition-free system.
Most of the costs for compulsory education are personnel expenditure for teachers and staff. Comparing the public financial expenditure per student in compulsory education across countries, some note that Japan already has a certain level of investment and that a decrease in the amount of this investment (see footnotes 12 and 13) according to the declining birthrate is natural. On the other hand, there are disparities in the environments for compulsory education, including situations such as the recruitment of irregular teachers,(*5) the recruitment of teachers for subjects they are unqualified to teach,(*6) and large class sizes. (*7)Also, the existence of educational disparities according to each household’s financial situation is noted.(*8) Therefore, compulsory education, which forms the foundation for human development, must be a stronger safety net for learning than ever before in order to avoid reproducing and fixating those disparities. Furthermore, compulsory education needs to cultivate world-class academic abilities, normative consciousness, and attitudes of respect for history and culture.
Children who will survive upheavals in future society need the abilities to think for themselves, voluntarily solve problems through collaboration with people inside and outside school, and create new values. To cultivate these abilities, a transition to new collaborative and interactive styles of learning using ICT is necessary. In addition, as there are many reports about undesirable behavior (e.g., bulling and violence) from schools, it seems many educational issues remain. Also, guided teaching practices are needed for every student’s needs, including teaching for special subjects in elementary schools and special needs education. In response to such issues, we seek to refine the teaching system in cooperation with teachers and staff in each stage of compulsory education and to improve teachers’ capabilities for providing guided and high quality education. (*9)
In addition, there have been increasing demands for collaboration among schools, families, and local communities in every area to solve many types of issues.
Although individuals can choose the type of upper secondary education they pursue based on their own desire and abilities (unlike in the case of compulsory education), it should be noted that upper secondary schools are education institutions for all, with a 98% enrollment rate. There are demands for high quality upper secondary education for all students who want to study, in order to allow equal opportunities. On this count, the program of tuition-free public upper secondary schools and upper secondary school tuition support funds have been implemented from FY2010, and the burden of educational costs has been reduced. However, the current economic situation necessitates efforts to provide low income households with more support and narrow the disparity between public and private schools. Meanwhile, diversity in upper secondary education may lead to difficulties in assessing student progress. We need to ensure the quality of upper secondary education for students to obtain foundational and basic academic abilities by developing a system to assess their learning achievements.

Higher education contributes to people’s lives and socioeconomic development, including the development of human resources with broad knowledge and great expertise, development of human resources as leaders in each field in the society, and resolution of issues through various fields of knowledge. In order to continue to develop the Japanese economy and industry despite the nation’s declining birthrate in a more competitive international community, it is also essential to develop human resources who possess a national identity, create new values, and take an active role in making contributions to Japan and to the world. Universities must be the driving power for the development of such human resources.
Even though the matter is difficult to judge simply because of the need for taking total public expenditure, national burden rate, and the percentage of students in the total population into consideration, it seems Japan’s public expenditure on higher education is low compared with other major advanced countries (see footnote 12), which leads to the issue of the heavy burden of educational costs on household budgets. Reductions or waivers of tuition and enrollment fees for students from low income families, scholarship loan programs for a wide range of peoples, and educational loans have been introduced for leveling the burden, but educational disparities dependent on family incomes and regional situations persist. (*10)
The financial situation of the family affects children’s education continuance rates and, eventually, their employment type and income after graduation. There is a concern that this leads to the sequential fixation of disparities over generations and a negative chain reaction that deprives the entire society of vigor and hope.
To equalize educational opportunities, the government needs to introduce measures that will allow students to avoid having to give up advanced education due to their financial situation. This is a significant issue under the declining birthrate, because the heavy burden of educational costs on household budgets is reportedly a major cause of concern in childcare. In addition, in September of 2012, the government withdrew the reservation of application in regulations on “the progressive introduction of free education” in upper secondary education and higher education, under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It is therefore important to attempt to reduce the burden of educational cost on household budgets, given the points mentioned above.
Also, in the “era of intelligence” and globalization, the educational quality of universities/colleges should be drastically raised to train students intellectually during their campus life in order to cultivate their abilities to play active roles in various fields, in both the international and local communities, and their abilities to learn throughout their lives, think independently, and take action when needed. To do so, measures for sufficient environments that allow voluntary learning are essential, including the following: providing support for learning; enhancing teachers’ educational abilities; shifting the approach to education to a more practical one centered on active learning; encouraging interactive lectures, exercises, and experiments; building teacher and staff systems to enable this shift,(*11) and utilizing ICT further. It is important to improve university governance and distribute funds in a well-balanced way to promote such measures.
In addition, there is a need for more human resources, or core personages and experts in the fields where demands are expected, as well as for practical vocational training to be more accessible in order to meet the needs of industries. Realizing a society of lifelong engagement with the participation of all citizens requires environments where all people who desire career advancement have access to opportunities for reeducation at any stage of life, so that they may take an active role in society.
Furthermore, Japan must triumph in the severe competition to secure excellent human resources from other countries and to develop its own human resources to take leading roles in the challenging transition to a globalized society. Thus, measures are needed to raise the educational standard, such as by pursuing the internationalization of universities and formation of world top class educational institutions. For this, in addition to the required educational investments, measures including tax incentives to encourage donations and sponsored research are needed.

As we learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake, priority should be placed on creating a safe environment for education/research for all. Although earthquake safety measures have been emphasized, the situation still varies by region and facility administrators, and more efforts to address the problems are required, for example, enhancement of disaster protection functions and countermeasures against the deterioration of school facilities, including earthquake resistance measures of nonstructural members. The creation of such environments must be steadfastly promoted in both national/public and private institutions.

 *4 Learning costs (average values for all grades combined (full-time basis for upper secondary school): annual costs (FY2010) 

  • Public school
    - Kindergarten-School education: JPY130,000; School lunch: JPY19,000; Activities outside school: JPY84,000
  • Elementary school-School education: JPY55,000; School lunch: JPY42,000; Activities outside school: JPY207,000
  • Lower secondary school-School education: JPY132,000; School lunch: JPY35,000; Activities outside school: JPY293,000
  • Upper secondary school-School education: JPY238,000; Activities outside school: JPY156,000
  • Private school
    - Kindergarten-School education: JPY358,000; School lunch: JPY28,000; Activities outside school: JPY151,000
    - Elementary school-School education: JPY835,000; School lunch: JPY46,000; Activities outside school: JPY584,000
    - Lower secondary school-School education: JPY990,000; School lunch: JPY9,000; Activities outside school: JPY279,000
    - Upper secondary school-School education: JPY685,000; Activities outside school: JPY238,000
    Source: MEXT, Survey of Household Expenditure on Education per Student 2012

 *5 The percentages of irregular teachers in the allocated standard numbers of teachers (FY2012)-Okinawa: 16.6% (highest); Tokyo: 3.5% (lowest); national average: 8.8%
*Irregular teachers include temporarily hired teachers and part-time lecturers. The number of part-time lecturers is converted to that of full-time lecturers based on working hours.
Source: Surveys of MEXT

 *6 The ratios of approved schools for unqualified subject teaching in public lower secondary schools (FY2010)-Gifu: 85.6%; Fukushima: 80.6%; Wakayama: 80.6%; Tokyo: 0%; National average: 35.5%
Source: MEXT surveys

 *7 Class size (FY2012)

  • Elementary school-Tokyo: 29.2 (maximum); Kochi: 17.9 (minimum); national average: 24.5
  • Lower secondary school-Saitama and Tokyo: 32.2 (maximum); Kochi: 20.5 (minimum); national average: 28.6

Source: MEXT, School Basic Survey 2012

 *8 Relationship between household annual income and students’ correct answer rates on the National Assessment of Academic Ability

  • Household income under 2 million yen-Japanese B: 43.2%; Math B: 42.6%
  • Household income over 15 million yen-Japanese B: 64.3%; Math B: 65.6%

 *National average-Japanese B: 55.5%; Math B: 55.8%

 *9 Ratio of students to teaching staff (Public and private institutions)
- Primary school: 18.4 (OECD average: 15.8); Lower secondary school: 14.4 (OECD average: 13.7)
Average class size (Public and private institutions)
- Primary school: 28.0 (OECD average: 21.2); Lower secondary school: 32.9 (OECD average: 23.4)
Source: OECD, Education at a Glance 2012

 *10 Average annual household expenditure for full-time university students’ living costs (Expenditures from scholarship loans are not included) (FY2010)

  • Living at home-Average: JPY996,000; Public (National): JPY623,000; Public (Prefectural/Municipal): JPY 581,000; Private: JPY1,058,000
  • Living in dormitory-Average: JPY1,391,000; Public (National): JPY697,000; Public (Prefectural/Municipal): JPY828,000; Private: JPY1,574,000
  • Living away from home-Average: JPY1,531,000; Public (National): JPY1,186,000; Public (Prefectural/Municipal): JPY1,049,000; Private: JPY1,745,000
  • Total-Average: JPY1,228,000; Public (National): JPY971,000; Public (Prefectural/Municipal): JPY854,000; Private: JPY1,301,000

Source: Japan Student Services Organization, Survey on Student Life 2010

Student pathway after high school (by annual family income)

  • Under four million yen-Four-year university: 31.4%; Employment or other: 30.1%
  • Six to eight million yen-Four-year university: 49.4%; Employment or other: 15.7%
  • Over 10 million yen-Four-year university: 62.4 %; Employment or others: 5.6%

Source: University Tokyo, Center for Research on University Management and Policy (CRUMP), First Report of the Follow-up Survey on High School Students’ Courses after Graduation (2007)

Tertiary education entry rates of students graduating from upper secondary school, by prefecture (full-time and part-time basis; FY2012)

  • University-Tokyo: 62.4% (highest); Kagoshima: 29.4% (lowest)
  • All tertiary education institutions (universities, junior colleges, and professional training colleges)-Kyoto: 79.7% (highest); Aomori: 55.8% (lowest)

Source: MEXT, School Basic Survey 2012

 *11 Ratio of students to academic staff-National universities: 9.8; Private universities: 20.7 (Source: MEXT, School Basic Survey 2012)

Directions of future educational investments

Under these circumstances, to tackle the educational tasks mentioned in Section II, major directions of educational investment in the period of this plan are defined as follows:

  • Establishment of environments that facilitate high quality education such as collaborative and interactive learning;
  • Reduction of the burden of educational costs on household budgets;
  • Establishing safe and secure environments for education and research, including strengthening the earthquake resistance of school facilities.

Deciding how much financial resources for investment can be spared is a critical choice for the nation. Under the ongoing globalization, human resources are most important for achieving a vigorous society in Japan, where natural resources are few. Through the three policies mentioned above, we must support more efforts to meet the needs for developing human resources, which can strengthen various competences to support our country’s growth and active role in the international community. Thus, rebuilding education is one of the high priority policy issues, and we should seek to materialize a higher quality of education than is offered by major Western countries.

Accordingly, to materialize the educational visions stated above, financial resources must be spared to secure the educational investments truly needed for reaching the achievement targets and implementing the basic measures mentioned in Part 2 in the period of the Second Basic Plan, referring to the situation of educational investment, including education public expenditures in OECD countries (see footnote 12).

Citizens’ understanding and cooperation with measures for educational investment

Meanwhile, the total government debt in both national and local governments in Japan has increased from when the First Basic Plan was published, from about 175% of the GDP (FY2008) to about 220% (FY2012), which is the highest level compared with other major advanced countries. Because the estimated expansion of social security expenditure and expenditure for national debt service cannot be ignored, educational investment is required to be balanced with the financial policies of the nation.

Given the harsh financial situation, it is natural that educational investments must be applied efficiently and effectively to lead to the desirable results, including greater educational abilities and enhanced human resources. Therefore, it is particularly important to attain the understanding and cooperation of the citizens in different fields for the measures of educational investments. As stated in Part 3, the government needs to review the achievements of each budgeted measure and to continuously and thoroughly innovate and improve its policies.

(Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau, Policy Planning and Coordination Division)