Table Speech

Education for Tomorrow

August 24th,2005

Chairman of the Japan Academic Encouragement Society
Mr. Motoyuki Ono

When Japan was keeping its doors closed, foreign countries assumed that we were a barbarian society. After the Meiji Restoration (1867) our national policy was to centralize our government and to create a strong military. With this in mind we succeeded in Westernizing and modernizing our country. We also constructed an academic system and by making it nationwide were able to develop, and the world marveled at our accomplishment. Another accomplishment the world admired was Japan’s recovery from the last war when from wide spread devastation our hard working people created an economic power which was called ‘Japan as No.1’ in the 80’s.

Even though we succeeded in climbing to the top of the hill, our bubble burst and we faced difficult times.

We call it ‘the lost decade’, but today we have the third chance to build further on our predecessor’s good work and give thought to how we can develop further as a peace loving nation.

Fortunately, the economy is now moving forward again, but our government’s reforms are lagging behind. We must restructure government waste and the bureaucratic system. We cannot leave the 770 trillion debt that central and local government have created untouched.

I believe that bureaucrats playing a neutral role are irreplaceable. But they must work with pride and be held responsible, and we need bureaucratic reform to make this come true.

Recently, increases in our budget are only for pensions and old age medicine. This is not enough, and we need to invest in helping mothers bear more babies, on education and research.

As I am speaking on education, let me declare that I have changed directions regarding our ‘leisurely education’ system. Schools should not be too tight in their educational processes, but on the other hand not too loose.

We are concerned about the drop in educational testing which are revealed. Some say that our national examinations are unnecessary, but a nationwide examination is needed to ascertain the results of our schools endeavors for a particular year.

One of the questionable points about our post-war education was in teaching that democracy was equality, for instance one student’s opposition prevented the formation of a new school. We need ratings of student’s scores when they graduate, and we need objective records of a student’s accomplishments when they enter society.

Education in the English language is important, and we have introduced tests in English language hearing in next year’s University Center examinations.

Reform of compulsory education is important, but so university reform. One big step is privatization of state universities. We wish to introduce the skills of business management into the academic field. Instead of choosing the Chancellor by voting, a nominating council will make the choice. 130,000 persons, teaching or otherwise will lose their status as government employees and become civilian employees. So, universities are changing, and our organization stands by to fund worthy research work being conducted by academics. We have chosen some 30 universities and will help fund them so that they may be able to become academic centers of international standing.

Our national universities are striving to introduce skills from private business and to reform themselves.
Our government has made great efforts to revitalize the academic world, and has stressed the point in the 2nd Basic Plan for Scientific Techniques.

The same intention holds for the 3rd Basic Plan, but as the government struggles with its huge debts it will be quite difficult to obtain the necessary funds. A problem is that whereas the schools belong to the city, town or village, the matter of teachers is within the control of the prefectures. Thus, the two must cooperate to reform compulsory education in order to respond to the anticipations of the public.