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Career Education Learning for the “Real Life” after School CONTENTS FRONT COVER KidZania (pictured), an “Edutainment Town” in through articles — March Issue Tokyo, is a popular destination for school-age children, one that enables them to get hands-on experience of a broad range of jobs, including airplane pilot, firefighter, doctor and chef. Such experiences can only bolster the career education now being offered at Japanese schools. (TADASHI AIZAWA) 4-7 Career Japan is undertaking a range of policy initiatives to better connect young people in Japan with the Education: world of work. The Japan Journal reports. Learning for the “Real Life” after School 8-10 An Unwavering Masakazu Yamazaki, playwright, critic and former chairman of the Central Education Council, Enthusiasm looks at the history of education in Japan and the for Education roles it has played in society. 11-13 Trust-based Iichiro Kono, president of the Institute of National Colleges of Technology, Japan discusses the Training characteristics and goals of these distinctive higher education facilities. 14-15 Flexible Koji Takahashi, director of the Office for Administrative Reform at the Ministry of Education, Education Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), comments on the introduction of “special structural reform zones for deregulated educational services.” 16-17 Building Yukie Hori, vice senior researcher at the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training, explains Bridges to the Japan’s initiatives and vision in respect of World of Work internships. 2 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 18-20 Financial The Central Council for Financial Services Information supports the economic activities of Planning for All Japanese citizens by offering financial education and financial services information. Koichiro Shibuya, the Council’s deputy director-general, explains these efforts. 21-23 Reworking Professor Yoshio Higuchi, an expert in labor economics at Keio University, examines changes in Employment Japanese management in relation to employment practices and discusses some medium- to long-term approaches to related issues. 24-25 The New Energy Recipient projects for the thirteenth New Energy Award were finalized in December 2008. Masaki Award Yamada examines the status of new energy development and application in Japan as seen through the winning projects. 26-28 Yokai and the Kazuhiko Komatsu, a professor at the International Research Center of Japanese Culture, Japanese discusses the world of Japanese monsters. Mind’s Eye 29-31 Signs for All Pictograms such as those depicting restrooms, elevators and wheelchairs were introduced in Times Japan at the time of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Their roots, however, reach back much further than that, as pictogram designer Yukio Ota explains. 32-33 Three Lanes to According to data released in February by Japan’s National Police Agency, road accident fatalities in Safer Roads 2008 were at their lowest level for more than fifty years. Advances in automobile safety technologies, improvements to the road system itself, and tougher regulations have all played a part. With a focus on the last of these, Gavin Blair explains the reasons for the decline in road deaths. 34-35 The Land of the Despite dark clouds hanging over the Japanese and world economies, at Japan’s annual solar Rising Sun power exposition the sun was shining. Tony McNicol reports. Dollar figures in the issue are calculated using a conversion rate of one dollar = 92 yen. Edited and published by the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan. The views expressed in this magazine by interviewees or contributors do not necessarily represent the views of the Cabinet Office or the Government. Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 3 COVER STORY Career Education Learning for the “Real Life” after School Creating ties with the professional world is clearly positioned as tions, thereby laying the foundations required to harness human resources one of the objectives of education in Japan, with the significance over the medium to long term. and purpose of career education explicitly outlined under newly revised curriculum guidelines and the government’s Basic National Policy Education Promotion Plan. The Japan Journal reports on some The government began to promote ca- of the specific policy initiatives now being undertaken to better reer education in earnest at the end of the 1990s, initially in the form of pro- connect school children in Japan with the world of work. fessional awareness education, as a preliminary stage before students em- I barked on internships. This was in- n a policy speech to the 170th ses- Strategy sets out four visions of what spired primarily by a report published sion of the Diet in September will be required to achieve its aim of in December 1999 by the Central 2008, his first since assuming of- “new growth” in the face of a declin- Education Council, entitled Improving fice, Japan’s 92nd Prime Minister ing population, namely creating a Links between Elementary/Secondary Taro Aso declared that Japan would “global innovation center,” “new Education and Higher Education. The push full steam ahead with a New value,” “a nation rich in human re- report stated that “career education Economic Growth Strategy designed sources” and “a country in which peo- needs to be provided from elementary to stimulate demand and generate new ple are confident in their national school onwards, in line with different jobs through the creation of new in- wealth,” through initiatives such as stages of development,” using the dustries and technology. In a subse- the creation of “a virtuous cycle of in- term “career education” for the first quent policy speech to the 171st ses- novation and demand.” time within the context of specific sion of the Diet in January 2009, Aso One of the specific policies set out proposals to the education authorities. similarly stressed the need for eco- in an effort to achieve these goals is According to Research Coordina- nomic growth founded on reform, set- that of developing human resources as tor Teruyuki Fujita from the National ting out a focus on job and market the root source of innovation. The Institute for Educational Policy creation based on the New Economic Growth Strategy aims to promote “in- Research’s Guidance and Counseling Growth Strategy. dustry, government and academia edu- Research Center, “the report clearly Initially devised in 2006, the New cation partnerships” and push ahead underlined the need for career educa- Economic Growth Strategy (“Growth with initiatives such as creating an en- tion in order to create a link between Strategy”) was revised in view of sub- vironment conducive to career educa- students’ school lives and subsequent sequent socioeconomic conditions in tion from elementary school onwards working lives. From 2002 onwards, a September 2008 before being ap- and practical vocational education at group of experts within the Ministry proved by the Cabinet. The Growth universities and other such institu- of Education launched a study to ex- amine what form career education should take. This was prompted by a Figure 1: Number of “freeters” major shift in employment patterns (ten thousand) after the collapse of the bubble econo- my, with the rate of employment 250 age 15–24 amongst high school graduates bot- age 25–34 toming out and youth employment 200 issues such as growing numbers of 91 98 99 NEETs (not in employment, education 150 97 92 49 92 or training) and “freeters” (people opt- ing for temporary over permanent em- 100 29 ployment) starting to emerge just as 23 117 119 115 the study was getting underway. 50 102 104 95 89 17 72 Career education was an attempt to 57 34 address this situation in collaboration 0 1982 1987 1992 1997 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 with organizations outside schools.” Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Since the publication of a report 4 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue on the promotion of career education Figure 2: Number of unemployed young people in 2004, career education has started (ten thousand) to be rolled out as a specific national 70 policy. Rather than being overseen ex- age 15–19 age 25–29 clusively by the Ministry of Educa- 60 age 20–24 age 30–34 17 18 18 19 18 tion, Culture, Sports, Science and 50 18 Technology (MEXT), the govern- 35 36 37 39 36 11 11 10 13 18 37 ment’s career education policy is im- 40 11 9 11 9 10 24 24 28 18 19 20 18 18 23 plemented in conjunction with the 30 19 22 19 21 13 13 13 23 15 Ministry of Economy, Trade and In- 10 11 12 10 11 20 17 16 18 17 dustry, the Ministry of Health, Labour 13 12 13 12 12 13 15 24 12 13 29 28 27 16 25 26 16 25 and Welfare, the Ministry of Agricul- 10 21 20 22 21 21 22 21 21 8 8 9 9 9 9 9 9 8 12 11 10 9 10 9 ture, Forestry and Fisheries and the 0 Cabinet Office amongst others. 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 As a result of revisions to the Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Basic Law on Education in December 2006 and the School Education Law the following year in March 2007, cre- personal capabilities and social capa- tary School as an excellent example of ating ties with the professional world bilities (to help them make the transi- well-balanced harmony between lead- is now clearly positioned as one of the tion into society) through collabora- ership from the school’s principal and objectives of education in Japan, with tion between the school and the local NPO support. He believes that the the significance and purpose of career community, working hand in hand foundations are there for practical edu- education explicitly outlined under re- with local people. cation based on a functioning local vised curriculum guidelines and the As part of career education, stu- community and that the involvement government’s Basic Education dents engage in structured, practical of businesses commissioned under the Promotion Plan in an effort to facili- activities from the first to sixth grades, Ministry of Economy, Trade and In- tate classroom activities in schools. including listening to talks from adults dustry (METI)’s Local-Oriented Pri- they encounter in their everyday lives, vate Sector-Involved Career Education Community Schools getting to know themselves, thinking Project has also been a factor in the about the reasons why people work success of the school’s initiatives. At Daiyon Elementary School in and starting to think about life plans. Fujita rejects any suggestion that this Mitaka, Tokyo, career education and As part of entrepreneur education is a one-off case that can’t be used as entrepreneur schemes are organized meanwhile older students work with an example for other communities. for students in every grade. This ap- the Dream Support Network to come “Initiatives such as those at proach originally stemmed from the up with ideas for products that harness Mitaka Daiyon Elementary School recognition that too much emphasis local resources, specifically Edo- would be equally feasible in other was being placed on knowledge murasaki clematis, a plant traditionally communities too. Even less populated through learning and upbringing, with used for dying kimono fabric. The pu- communities where there are no com- students’ after-school activities re- pils collected the plants and produced panies can still provide career educa- volving around cram schools, to the crepe wrapping paper, tissue case cov- tion using the unique resources they detriment of relationships with the ers and the like using the distinctive have available, such as agriculture, local community. The school has been dyestuff. They established hypotheti- forestry or fishing for instance. The striving to make itself more open to cal companies and produced plans problem is how to provide experiences the community since 2000 and has set covering everything from prototype that reshape children’s perspectives out a policy of strengthening exchange production through to sales. They then from scratch. It is because of their in its capacity as a focal point where submitted their plans and received small scale that communities can play students learn about life in the local funding from the school, enabling their part. It is also important that community and get to experience as- them to actually go out into the com- teachers recognize the need to provide pects of society and nature. One of the munity and sell their products. career education.” key features of the school’s activities Initiatives such as these were Essentially, children need to come is that they involve around 200 local commended by MEXT in November into contact with members of their volunteers registered as Community 2008 as practical examples of how ed- community, see what sort of jobs are Teachers. The school also promotes ucational capabilities within the local out there, understand how each pro- entrepreneur education via the Dream community can be harnessed extreme- fession functions and get to know Support Network, a NPO set up in ly effectively. how those involved in each profession 2003, primarily by the same local vol- Teruyuki Fujita from the National work. That is the basis of career edu- unteers. The school’s aim is to become Institute for Educational Policy Re- cation. Teachers and instructors a participation-oriented community search regards the initiatives being therefore need a discerning eye in school that equips students with both carried out at Mitaka Daiyon Elemen- order to identify and bring out such Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 5 COVER STORY aspects of education. nation (getting acquainted with and nical personnel to come in and give experiencing a profession) and (4) self talks. The idea didn’t go as planned Work Ability fulfillment (drawing up a life plan). however as schools responded nega- Students progress through the pro- tively, claiming that it was unwork- As one might expect from a school gram by researching jobs in the local able due to safety concerns. that has been commended by MEXT, community and visiting local work- The turning point came when a Misono Junior High School in places in the first grade, undergoing private organization that happened to Tokyo’s Ota Ward has been organiz- work experience placements and be researching collaboration between ing experience-based education in thinking about their own aptitudes in schools and the work place, called manufacturing, harnessing local in- the second grade and thinking about Gakushoku Renkei Net (cooperative dustry in the area, since fiscal 2006. career options in the third grade. network of education and career), Brimming with over 5,000 backstreet Surveys carried out after students have started to organize meetings for man- agers of local factories, teachers and anyone else interested in ca- Figure 3: Junior high school students’ working experience by days reer education. One factory manager got the ball rolling by saying “there may FY2004 43.0 29.0 19.2 1.9 6.1 0.7 be some difficulties, but we’ll give it a go. I know there are FY2005 36.4 29.5 19.6 2.2 11.5 0.7 some issues to be addressed, but I’m sure we could work some- FY2006 29.1 28.6 22.9 2.1 16.5 0.6 thing out with the help of the Ota City Industry and Economy FY2007 17.6 26.4 30.6 3.7 21.2 0.6 Department. I’ll try approaching them too.” Ota Industrial Union Corporation also started to take 0 20 40 60 80 100 (%) action and Ota City began to ad- One-day Two-day Three-day Four-day Five-day Over six-day dress career education as well. Source: National Institute for Educational Policy Research The issue of ensuring students’ safety was resolved through “a last-ditch policy of asking indus- factories, Ota Ward is one of the main undergone work experience in the trial schools to provide advance train- centers of the manufacturing industry ward, in places such as convenience ing sessions for students going to local in Japan, alongside Higashi Osaka, stores, hair salons, hotels and small factories and catering colleges to pro- and provides support for everything factories, show that 87% learn that vide training for those going to food- from prototype production for cutting work can be interesting and 82% learn related plants,” Hayakawa says. edge industries the world over to the how great it is to be an adult. The “It takes an awful lot of prepara- manufacturing of components. school’s efforts were commended on tion to offer a placement. Having chil- As part of its career education the basis that they improve students’ dren come into the workplace however policy, since fiscal 2005 METI has understanding of the local community, stimulates activity and boosts morale. been promoting a program called Ca- equip them with a realistic outlook on Companies frequently comment that reer Start Week, whereby junior high work, help prepare them for life after ‘they work pretty hard for junior high school students experience life in the leaving school to a certain extent and school students.’ Placements also have workplace for a period of at least five nurture the ability to work. the added bonus of giving parents and days, and is working to lay the foun- From companies’ point of view children more to talk about.” dations for increased collaboration be- however, there are always difficulties tween the likes of schools, industry with regard to issues such as assigning Securing Placements and related government bodies. placement supervisors, reorganizing As part of this program, Misono operations to accommodate students Securing placements as part of career Junior High School has set out the ob- and ensuring student safety. education is no easy matter, placing a jective of providing students with an Takayuki Hayakawa, a teaching considerable burden on teachers in outlook on work and a professional consultant at the Board of Education schools. By way of support, the Tokyo viewpoint through career education in Ota Ward, viewed the idea of ask- Metropolitan Government Education and also equipping them with “the ing schools to provide work experi- Bureau compiles a list of companies ability to work,” namely (1) self- ence placements as merely an exten- offering placements. awareness (getting to know oneself sion of their experiences prior to the “We are trying to emphasize the and thinking about the future), (2) Career Start Week program, including importance of career education to vari- self-discovery (thinking about a pro- organizing factory tours for students ous different industries,” explains fession and aptitudes), (3) self exami- and inviting engineers and other tech- Shuichi Yamamoto, a teaching con- 6 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue sultant at the Education Bureau. “We them. Put simply, career education is a tion building in the future. keep stressing that career education is form of developmental education that The Trends in International Math- hugely valuable in the long term and gives children the awareness they ematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is asking companies to work with us to need to lay the foundations for a rich, a study that uses standardized tests to help nurture the children that will full life in the future.” assess the level of educational shoulder the next generation. We have In order to effectively achieve this achievement in the fields of numeracy got the likes of department stores in goal, it is essential to work together (mathematics) and science amongst the Kanto area, Japan Railways and with coordinators outside school, fourth grade elementary school stu- childcare and kindergarten facilities through organizations such as NPOs dents and second grade junior high on board so far and have compiled a and boards of education. Indeed, school students. The TIMSS results list of over a thousand workplaces. METI has continued to expand the for 2007 rank Japanese elementary We are currently working to dissemi- aforementioned Local-Oriented Pri- school fourth graders fourth in the nate the relevant information.” vate Sector-Involved Career Education world in both numeracy and science, According to a 2006 summary Project, whilst MEXT has set up Com- with junior high school second graders compiled by the Career Education munity School Support Teams as part ranked fifth in numeracy and third in Promotion Committee, a subdivision of its efforts to increase cooperation science. The level of basic scientific of the Youth Development Committee with local communities. Since fiscal knowledge amongst adults in Japan headed by the prime minister, the per- 2008, both ministries have also been however is lower than that of other centage of junior high schools around discussing standard qualifications for countries. The reason for this discrep- the country organizing work experi- coordinators and minimum require- ancy stems from the fact that Japanese ence placements lasting five days or ments for outside-school coordinators. education is geared towards exams, longer is on the increase, rising from with no real connection between 7.9% (807 schools) in fiscal 2004, Nation Building learning and everyday life. It is impor- prior to the Career Start Week pro- tant however that we learn in order to gram, to 13.8% (1,409 schools) in fis- Japan is a nation founded on manufac- live. It would be no exaggeration to cal 2005 and 19.6% (1,983 schools) in turing and has established itself as the say that basic learning and career edu- fiscal 2006. world’s second largest economy based cation will form the basis of nation According to Yamamoto, the key on science and technology, accumulat- building in the future. to increasing this percentage in the fu- ing a wealth of intellectual property in What is important in career edu- ture rests with regular educational ac- tivities in one respect. “As it stands, a lack of expert staff and time is both one of the weak- nesses and one of the strengths of ca- “Career education is a form of developmental reer education. What I mean is that there are plenty of opportunities for education that gives children the awareness students to learn the basics of career education, such as formal greetings, they need to lay the foundations for a rich, attire, appropriate language and man- ners for instance, in the course of their full life in the future.” regular lessons and school lives. It is therefore important to specify and —Teruyuki Fujita, National Institute for Educational Policy Research place priority on elements of career education within the context of regular educational activities.” The aforementioned Fujita is keen the process. Technology and knowl- cation is that it encourages young to stress the importance of career edu- edge could effectively be regarded as people to find a job soon after gradu- cation from a similar perspective. “In the basis of the Japanese people’s ating and allows them to find an ap- addition to preventing students from wealth. Nonetheless, Japan is currently propriate role in society and work becoming NEETs or freeters, provid- facing a dwindling birthrate, an aging within it productively and continuous- ing career education from elementary society and a declining population, ly. Having stressed the fact that school onwards makes for a wide- ahead of any of the world’s other ad- human development is the basis of ranging education irrespective of vanced nations. There is no doubting nation building, in February 2009 issues such as the current state of the that technology and knowledge will Prime Minister Aso instructed the economy or youth employment, in- form the basis of Japan’s efforts to de- Meeting on Education Rebuilding to cluding helping children to map out velop new industries and create em- begin discussing career education their various options in life and equip- ployment, retain its economic power with direct links to employment. ping them with the values they need to and contribute to the international choose the options that are best for community within the context of na- Hitoshi Chiba, The Japan Journal Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 7 EDUCATION An Unwavering Masakazu Yamazaki, playwright, critic and former chairman of the Central Education Council, looks at the history of Enthusiasm for education in Japan and the roles it has played in society. In a parallel develop- and katakana—were used, and each Education ment, private schools had about fifty letters. In spite of this known as terakoya be- difficulty, Japan enjoyed very high lit- came popular in agricul- eracy rates. This can be attested to by tural communities and the fact that novels called “kibyoshi” J cities, where the merchant sold in the thousands when they were apanese education has been class lived. According to one theory, published in the Edo period. distinct in that it has for a very members of the warrior class, who had Merchants were particularly en- long time been available to the flourished during the Sengoku thusiastic about education. In addition ordinary person. (“Warring States”) period (1467– to providing the elementary school ed- At least from the beginning of the 1568) that preceded the Edo period, ucation I described above, merchants Edo period (1603–1867), not only lost their jobs with the arrival of often taught what could be called busi- warriors in a high social position but peace. A great majority of these un- ness ethics or business manners to also the commoners down to farmers employed warriors are said to have their children and adults including and merchants were receiving an ele- found work as teachers at terakoya. warriors at private schools which they mentary school education under a class Naturally, reading, writing and arith- had established on their own. system known as “shi-no-ko-sho,” metic were taught at terakoya. The which ranked warriors at the top, fol- Japanese literacy rate in the Edo peri- Education and lowed by farmers, craftsmen and mer- od was believed to have been very Employment chants. The lords of feudal domains set high, compared with the literacy rate up schools called “hanko” to educate in not only other countries in Asia but Then the modern age arrived. With the the children of their retainers. These also in European countries. The num- Meiji Restoration (1868), education schools offered education that corre- ber of terakoya is believed to have became the greatest challenge for sponds in level to today’s elementary reached approximately 1,500 in Edo Japan as an emerging nation. Educa- school education and in some cases to (present-day Tokyo) and approxi- tion in the Meiji period (1868–1912) a junior high or senior high school ed- mately 15,000 nationwide by the end became extremely centralized because ucation. There were about ten hanko in of the Edo period. Japan rapidly introduced from the the first half of the eighteenth century. Incidentally, a somewhat special West modern manufacturing industry That number grew to about 260 at the kind of difficulty is involved in learn- and various legal concepts or basic so- beginning of the nineteenth century. ing the Japanese language. That is the cial assumptions that were global stan- Hanko seem to have placed an empha- coexistence of ideograms imported dards. For example, the Ministry of sis on literature and Confucianism. from China, which the Japanese call Education (now the Ministry of “kanji,” and original Japanese phono- Education, Culture, Sports, Science grams called “kana.” The number of and Technology [MEXT]) was estab- letters Japanese language students lished as an integrated central govern- needed to master was enormous, be- ment body to oversee education in cause two types of kana—hiragana 1871, three years after the administra- The enthusiasm of Japanese citizens for education remained extremely strong in the postwar period. Virtually no Japanese children failed to undergo compulsory education.... Parents sent their children to school even when food was scarce. TADASHI AIZAWA —Masakazu Yamazaki, playwright, critic and former chairman of the Central Education Council 8 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue COURTESY OF EDUCATION AND CULTURE CENTER, Contemporary illustration of a classroom scene at an Edo-period (1603–1867) terakoya. Such private MATSUMOTO CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION schools, established by merchants before education became compulsory in the Meiji period (1868–1912), were very well attended by children in the cities and agrarian communities, and along with the hanko schools for children of the feudal lords, ensured that Japan had a high level of literacy by world standards at the end of the Edo period. tive switch from the Edo Shogunate to ty, were certified at this point. At the politics and tended to withdraw to the the Meiji government. The establish- same time, national universities, then foxholes of their specialties by the ment of the ministry represented a re- called imperial universities, began to time they had graduated from univer- markable centralization. Initially, only increase in number. Ultimately, nine sity. The second class of middle intel- four years of elementary school educa- imperial universities were established, lectuals centering on those involved in tion was compulsory. Then, the com- as were a large number of senior high journalism went on to form extremely pulsory schooling period was extended schools. To state the details, only eight political and ideologized groups. And to six years. Subsequently, an educa- national senior high schools existed the third class of grassroots intellectu- tion system consisting of six years of originally, including the ichiko (the als created a certain social group, with elementary school education, five first senior high school). As a result of a special focus on the military. years of junior high school education, the Ministry’s policy change, a large As a result, a structure of ideologi- three years of senior high school edu- number of senior high schools bearing cal confrontation between academi- cation and three years of university the geographic names of their regions, cism and populism, or between upper education had been established in such as Matsumoto Senior High and middle intellectuals, developed. Japan by the 1920s. The first universi- School and Niigata Senior High The former class of intellectuals was ty in Japan, the University of Tokyo, School, came into existence. not able to lead public opinion, while was founded as a national university Consequently, a huge social prob- the latter became overly populist. in 1877 out of the Shohei-zaka lem emerged in Japan, albeit for a Caught in this ideological battle and Gakumonsho of the Tokugawa brief period. That is to say, Japan did influenced by additional poverty in ag- Shogunate in an independent initiative. not have sufficient employment for ricultural communities, Japan produced Interestingly, Japanese citizens the intelligentsia, which expanded an ill-fated current that ultimately trig- looked up to this sole university as a rapidly in number. More specifically, gered the Second World War. school that provided benefits or leader- there were three classes of people ship. I believe this is a unique charac- known as the intelligentsia. The first Enthusiasm for Education teristic of Japan, compared with the class consisted of academics who con- frequent occurrence of “town and gown fined themselves to imperial universi- However, the Japanese government’s conflicts” in the course of university ties or, in other words, remained in se- enthusiasm for compulsory education establishment in the United States. Of clusion in ivory towers. They occupied remained constant. For example, course, elementary schools were free the highest rank. So-called middle in- school buildings constructed in accor- to attend. Schools at higher levels cost tellectuals who worked at ordinary dance with strict criteria regarding money, including tuition or textbook companies, centering on those in jour- local geographic features and architec- fees. Higher education was beyond the nalism, formed the second class below ture are the safest places during natu- wildest dreams of most aspirants. the top one. Graduates of military ral disasters, whether they were locat- The Ministry of Education com- schools or specialized vocational ed in villages or cities. This unchanged mitted itself to improving higher edu- schools, such as teachers’ training col- government enthusiasm can be attested cation in 1922. That is to say, the leges and agricultural, forestry and to by the fact that, even today, people Ministry began to acknowledge pri- fisheries schools, shaped a group go to school buildings to take refuge vate universities, which had not exist- known as grassroots intellectuals at when a disaster of some kind strikes. ed up to that point, as universities. the third rung. Unfortunately, this bur- Following its defeat in World War Universities now famous, such as geoning group of academics in the II, Japan incorporated significant ele- Keio University and Waseda Universi- first class became totally indifferent to ments of the U.S. school system. For Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 9 EDUCATION example, the so-called 6-3-3-4 system, continued in postwar Japan. The tionship between equality and freedom consisting of six years of elementary Ministry of Education continued to in learning. Needless to say, the ideal school education, three years of junior play a role. However, at the same is for people to share equally substan- high school education, three years of time, Japan introduced a decentraliza- tial and advanced knowledge. How- senior high school education, and four tion of power, modeling itself on the ever, achieving this is a difficult task years of university education, is ad- United States. Consequently, we can for any country. It is difficult because opted from the United States. The en- say that Japan today balances central- knowledge differs from wealth. thusiasm of Japanese citizens for edu- ism and decentralism. Achieving equality does not end with cation remained extremely strong in To give a specific example, the a division of knowledge. In other the postwar period as well. Virtually Japa nese government grants basic words, educational opportunities may no Japanese children failed to undergo qualifications to teachers in a central- be offered equally but learning and compulsory education, in other words, ized manner. In other words, aspirants achievement depend on the skills and six years of elementary school educa- can become teachers by earning cred- efforts of each individual. tion and three years of junior high its prescribed by the government at For this reason, differences in aca- school education. Japanese parents universities. The subjects required for demic standards exist among schools sent their children to school even study at universities are particularly in present-day Japan, in the same way when food was scarce. The percentage centralized for those aspiring to be- as they do in other countries. There is of junior high school graduates who come elementary school teachers. a considerable degree of competition go on to senior high schools has risen However, it is the local boards of edu- to enter the most renowned schools. to the present level of 98% over the cation that actually hire teachers. For higher education overall, all years. This means compulsory educa- Decentralization of power is more or young Japanese already have the op- tion has in effect been extended to less maintained in this way. As for portunity to go to a university of some twelve years. Incidentally, all expens- textbooks, the prewar government ed- kind if they wish to do so, thanks to the declining birthrate. But the compe- tition is still severe when differences Educational opportunities may be offered equally but in the academic standards among schools are taken into consideration. learning and achievement depend on the skills and Calls have been made for a diversifi- cation of education as a natural solu- efforts of each individual. For this reason, differences in tion to this problem. A number of dif- ferent approaches have been tested to academic standards exist among schools in present-day provide knowledge that corresponds to the different capabilities of each in- Japan, as they do in other countries. A resolution has dividual in different ways. Still, an ul- timate resolution has yet to be discov- not been discovered because differences in ered. This resolution has not been discovered because differences in oc- occupational preferences [also] exist. cupational preferences exist in Japan as they do in other countries, in addi- tion to disparities in academic stan- es for elementary school and junior ited and distributed the same text- dards among schools. Competition for high school education are covered by books to all parts of the country. desirable jobs is fierce in each specific the National Treasury. Students pay Today, textbooks are edited and pub- occupation for that reason. No such nothing, including the cost of their lished by private companies. MEXT thing as perfect equality is sought in textbooks. Substantial reforms also screens the textbooks to ensure they this competition. took place in the postwar period at conform with established criteria. Meanwhile, a strong antipathy to- universities at the top of the ladder. As Local boards of education and respec- ward elite education exists in Japan as a result, national universities in rural tive schools are entrusted with the task a natural part of general society. How- areas were improved. Under a govern- of selecting textbooks from the ever, scholars and researchers with ment policy of establishing at least screened candidates. high levels of achievement are being one university in each prefecture, the sought as the world transitions to a number of universities increased. The Equality and Freedom knowledge-based society. Japa nese percentage of senior high school grad- in Learning education is continuing to struggle uates who enroll at universities has with the dilemma of equalizing its reached about 50%. This means uni- Under these arrangements, Japanese broad base and maintaining its high- versity education in Japan has entered education retains the equality and uni- est peaks. the so-called universal stage. Inciden- versality it had in the Edo period. tally, programs for national education- However, Japan shares an essential Masakazu Yamazaki is a playwright, critic and former chairman al unification and full state support problem with other countries: the rela- of the Central Education Council. 10 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue EDUCATION Trust-based Training course, with the remainder either going on to take specialized courses or transferring to a four-year degree course at a university. There are also some students who go on to do post- Iichiro Kono, president of the Institute of National Colleges of graduate study after finishing their specialized course. Particularly in re- Technology, Japan, discusses the characteristics and goals of the cent years, the proportion of students distinctive higher education facilities that are Japan’s technical colleges. aiming to acquire a higher level of T technical expertise while they are still he system of “colleges of tech- be described as an extremely success- students has been increasing, due to nology,” otherwise known as ful example in the history of higher the demand from industry for the cul- “technical colleges,” started education in postwar Japan. tivation of a skilled workforce. with the establishment of Another significant change took twelve technical colleges in 1962. place in 2003, when the legal status of Distinctive Features Since then, sixty-one technical col- universities and technical colleges leges have been established, so that changed so that they became “inde- The greatest attraction or feature of there is now at least one technical col- pendent administrative agencies” and technical colleges is “trust-based edu- lege in every prefecture. (Fifty-five of the Institute of National Colleges of cation.” Generally speaking, the day- these technical colleges were estab- Technology, Japan (INCT) was estab- to-day reality of most university edu- lished by the national government, lished. This process brought the fifty- cation is that the bonds of trust with three established by other gov- five national colleges of technology between teachers and students are be- ernment bodies and three established together as a single legal entity, which coming weaker, as the number of stu- by private organizations.) The educa- was established by the INCT. This dents increases and classrooms be- tional objective of these technical col- was an extremely significant reform, come larger and larger. It is not an leges is to “train technical workers to as it created a higher education institu- exaggeration to say that whether or be both practical and creative”—in tion with about 53,000 students and a not a young person between the ages other words, to “foster a core cadre of national network of technical colleges. of fifteen and eighteen grows and de- technical workers who will be at the Students can enter regular courses velops is determined by whether or center of Japan’s monodzukuri” at a technical college from the age of not he or she is motivated. The rela- (small-scale manufacturing). fifteen after they have graduated from tionship between teachers and learners The idea for a system of technical junior high school. They then go on to does not simply involve a transfer of colleges emerged from a strong de- receive five years of integrated and knowledge and skills. Rather, it is mand from industry during Japan’s continuous education, after which only when there is a relationship of rapid industrialization in the late they receive an associate degree. mutual trust that students truly devel- 1950s. As Japan moved from the peri- Students can then complete two more op the desire to take classes, take od of postwar reconstruction into the years of specialized courses to receive exams and participate in practical period of high economic growth, there a bachelor’s degree. Students that training. More than forty years’ of in- was a call from industry for the estab- enter the regular courses have the ad- lishment of educational institutions vantage of being able to receive con- that could cultivate technical experts tinuous training and integrated profes- who would be ready for action. The sional development, without having to government responded to this call, and suffer through the so-called examina- technical colleges were systematized tion wars of trying to qualify for with the establishment of the Colleges university. About 60% of students of Technology Law in 1961. This can graduate after completing the regular Technical colleges are highly regarded for having personal relationships [between teachers and students] that are far stronger than tends to be the case in universities. EIICHIRO IWASA —Iichiro Kono, president of the Institute of National Colleges of Technology, Japan Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 11 EDUCATION volvement with universities has made students an opportunity to learn by co- things work in the real world before me aware that technical colleges are operating of their own initiative, de- they return to the technical colleges to highly regarded for having personal veloping the skills that they will need continue their studies. relationships that are far stronger than when they enter the workforce, and In such circumstances, students tends to be the case in universities. building trust-both between students develop the desire to receive the train- To be more specific, the key as- and between teachers and students. ing needed to become even more ad- pects of trust-based education in tech- The expectations of society and vanced technical workers, as they as- nical colleges are as follows. Firstly, industry for these technical college pire to gain even more advanced by limiting the size of all classes to no students are high. One example of technical skills. Industry once required more than forty students, technical these expectations is a twenty- to thir- the kind of human resources that were colleges have created an educational ty-fold increase in the number of job immediately ready to contribute to environment that allows teachers to offers coming from companies. The Japan’s rapid industrialization during recognize and understand every stu- central pillar of Japanese monodzukuri the period of high economic growth. dent, including their individual per- is made up of medium-sized enterpris- That is, they needed people who had sonalities. This kind of environment is es rather than big companies, and acquired basic knowledge and tech- difficult to imagine in a typical uni- these medium-sized enterprises require niques, and skills that could be used versity where students tend to move a huge amount of manpower. The de- straight away. However, we have now from one massive classroom to anoth- mand for students who have received entered an age where the medium- er for each different subject. practical training at technical colleges sized enterprises that are the central Secondly, technical colleges have is almost completely unaffected by the pillar of Japan’s monodzukuri must student dormitories, and teachers ups and downs of the economic cycle. work to maintain their international have a guidance role here too. By liv- There are also many former graduates competitiveness. A new requirement ing together students learn teamwork of technical colleges who have found for technical college students is that and cooperation. This also gives them jobs and worked hard before going on they have the creativity needed to pro- an opportunity to develop closer to start their own businesses. In this duce technical innovations. bonds with each other and with the way, they are contributing to society Following these two changes, the teaching staff. as the skilled workers that support INCT has recognized the need for re- A third feature, which is a special Japanese manufacturing. forms and improvements, and has case that typically emerges from the been promoting reforms around two second feature that I just mentioned, is Partnerships goals: making education and training our engagement with the “Robot more advanced, and strengthening the Contest of Colleges of Technology.” Another feature of technical colleges services that build regional partner- This contest, better known as “Robo- is their intimate relationship with local ships. We are also considering moving con,” was started by NHK in 1988 and industries. All around Japan, technical from a flat, two-dimensional arrange- has now become a national event. colleges have been set up not in major ment whereby all fifty-five schools are Technical colleges have been assisting cities, but rather in regional cities that all at the same level to a three-dimen- with the organization of this event are one or two degrees smaller in sional structure that takes into account since 2000. scale. Major cities tend to have many regional differences. Each year, students start by orga- universities, and so there has been an Specifically, we plan to set up four nizing their ideas for robots when the ongoing policy to place technical col- new “super technical colleges” to be theme of the Robocon contest is an- leges in regional cities and promote key schools for their respective re- nounced in April. They then set about local partnerships, such as joint re- gions. These “super technical colleg- designing and creating robots for the search with local industry and local es” will be created by upgrading and regional finals in autumn and the na- government. In recent years, industry reorganizing four technical colleges tional finals in winter. Students form leaders and people with experience in that will be selected from the many re- project groups and get together out- local government have been involved gional areas where technical colleges side of class times, working day and in the planning process, in order to have already been established. The night to brainstorm and share their strengthen joint education, such as in- idea is that campus and the teaching knowledge. This gives students an op- ternship programs, in order to develop staff will remain unchanged, but the portunity to experience the process of even better training and develop work- curriculum, subjects and teaching con- creating something of their own by ers with even better skills. Even more tent will be revised in order to raise sharing knowledge collectively and recently, both students and teachers the standard of the educational content thoroughly discussing their ideas with have been able to participate in practi- and to strengthen regional partnership one another. cal training at partner companies services by establishing innovation As well as Robocon, there are overseas, as a result of partnerships centers together with local partners. other similar contests, including a pro- with trading companies and so on. In gramming contest, a design contest these programs, students see how International Exchange and an English speech contest. These monodzukuri really works in medium- contests have several functions: giving sized enterprises, and learn about how Exchanges of teaching staff have ex- 12 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue panded significantly in recent years. early age of fifteen. (The five years of for both teachers and students. At present, roughly two-thirds of the continuous and integrated training in There is no doubt that in future teachers at technical colleges are engi- the regular course is one of the dis- Japan must pursue national develop- neering doctorates, with the remainder tinctive features of the education sys- ment through science and technology. being technical experts with rich in- tem in technical colleges.) This means It also goes without saying that the dustry experience, such as former that there are numerous issues that re- mission that has been assigned to head technicians. In order to respond quire due consideration, in terms of technical colleges and their graduates to the changes in the requirements that both sending and receiving exchange is extremely significant, and technical industry now demands of new gradu- students. However, technical colleges colleges must produce large numbers ates, as discussed earlier, teaching also offer specialized courses for older of technical experts who can fulfill staff now need not only to read re- students as well as dormitories, and this mission. For example, many tech- search papers published overseas, but these points suggest significant poten- nical colleges are cultivating technical also to lift their own research activities tial when it comes to considering fu- workers specializing in industrial to the next level. As medium-sized ture expansion. areas, but if we consider the challeng- enterprises become increasingly inter- Specifically, we are considering es facing Japan, such as the food sup- national, teaching staff must also be- establishing a center for exchange stu- ply problem and the energy problem, come more international in terms of dents at the Okinawa College of it is clear that we must aim to cultivate the academic and technical a workforce with a richer research that they conduct. set of skills in a wider INCT has established ex- range of areas. In the agri- change agreements with cultural sector, in future more than 100 overseas- we should probably ex- based higher education in- pand our programs to cre- stitutions such as universi- ate more graduates with ties. As well as exchanges expertise in food technolo- conducted by individual gy, such as food process- technical colleges, the ing and biotechnology. INCT also sends dozens of Similarly in the energy teachers overseas every field, we are already en- year, for periods ranging gaged in developing tech- from six months to a year. nical experts in the areas We are also receiving of fuel science, petro- COURTESY OF INCT more and more visitors chemistry and nuclear from other higher educa- power, but in future I think tion institutions such as that we should also expand foreign universities, and Technical colleges have been assisting with the our programs to cultivate we expect that internation- organization of the televised “Robocon” event since 2000. technical workers with the al exchange at the teacher skills needed for the fun- level will continue to grow damental energy sector. in terms of both quantity and quality. Technology. This center could, for ex- To do this, technical colleges, as edu- Most of the exchange students ample, accept exchange students dur- cational institutions, must move for- that we receive are from Korea, China ing the summer holidays, and utilize ward by strengthening their trust- and Southeast Asian countries such as the dormitory and training facilities based education, improving the quality Malaysia, and most of these students available at the technical college. It is of their training, and doing everything are on government-funded scholar- possible that the technical college may necessary to increase their ability to ships. The scale of these exchange be able to conduct practical technical develop skilled workers. programs is smaller than that of uni- training or familiarization training. The world is now facing serious versities. The government has created The fundamental concept in inter- problems, such as environmental a plan to accept 300,000 foreign ex- national exchange is that, no matter problems, energy problems and finan- change students per annum by 2020, what differences there may be in ap- cial problems, and we are in a position and technical colleges are also con- proach or methodology in the way that of real adversity. However, in adver- sidering ways of expanding their in- technical training is carried out in dif- sity there is opportunity. This is be- take of exchange students, including ferent countries, it is extremely impor- cause it is at times such as these that self-funded exchange students. tant that we learn about these differ- society selects and chooses what is re- Actually, there are some difficul- ences in order to develop skilled ally necessary. ties associated with expanding the ex- workers. With this awareness, it is es- This is also true of technical colleges. change student program, not the least sential for the development of techni- of which is the fact that the five-year cal colleges’ education that we expand Iichiro Kono is president of the Institute of National Colleges of regular course starts at the relatively our international exchange networks Technology, Japan Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 13 EDUCATION Flexible Education Since 2003 the Japanese government has been promoting the municipal board of education offers a special teacher’s certificate to working establishment of “special deregulation zones” in local areas, to meet adults who have particular experience. more efficiently the demand for services identified by local authorities Chiyoda Ward in Tokyo is one such and private companies. Education is one area that has benefited from example, and has been approved as a the special zones initiative. Koji Takahashi, director of the Office for “special zone for the use of private manpower in a school established by Administrative Reform at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Chiyoda Ward.” Science and Technology (MEXT), introduces the “special structural This is an example of an attempt reform zones for deregulated educational services” created to date. to nurture the people who will lead the next generation by proactively recruit- S ing enthusiastic people from the pri- pecial structural reform zones case of special structural-reform zones vate sector as teachers or full-time in- for deregulated educational for deregulated educational services, structors, even though they do not services are one type of spe- 202 have been approved. possess a teacher’s license. Taking ad- cial deregulation zone created The majority of applications for vantage of the central location, English by the Law on Special Zones for special structural reform zones for de- lessons are conducted by native Structural Reform promulgated on regulated educational services are for English speakers from diplomatic es- April 1, 2003, where regional public English-language education or inte- tablishments, while mathematics is bodies undertake the implementation grated elementary and junior high taught in an engaging way by technical of specific educational projects in ac- school as a result of the creation of experts from IT companies or science- cordance with the characteristics of flexibility in the curriculum which has related businesses in Chiyoda Ward. the area and boost the human re- expanded across the entire country, sources that lead the local industry. discussed below. The next highest Successful Applicants The potential for replication nation- number of applications is for special wide of approved special zones for zones for the establishment of schools The Ota Foreign Language Education structural reform is deliberated each by corporations for supporting truant Special Zone in Ota City, Gunma year at an evaluation and investiga- elementary, junior and senior high Prefecture submitted an application at tion committee set up in the Head- school students, or for the develop- the beginning of 2003 and was the quarters for Promotion of Spe cial ment of experts working with those first special zone to be approved. This Zones for Structural Reform. If there students. Other unique zones are the special zone proposed an initiative for is no particular problem associated “Read Write Speak Listen” language teaching international tourism through with the special zone, the aim is to and culture Itami Special Zone in lessons conducted almost entirely in make the relaxation of regulations Itami City, Hyogo Prefecture, and the English, by native English speakers that was restricted to the special zone integrated elementary and junior high using English textbooks approved by effective nationwide. school special zone “Nara—the city the Ministry of Education, Culture, The special zones have been ap- where you can walk with us and learn Sports, Science and Technology. proved by the prime minister, and as about world heritage” in Nara City. In collaboration with the private of January 2009 number 1,060. In the There is also a special zone where the sector, Ota City established a school that implements integrated elementary, junior and senior high school educa- tion with the goal of creating an edu- cational environment where the chil- Special zones have two aspects in common. One is dren would be able to acquire real-life the fostering of world citizens through the early English and an international sensitivity and mindset that have world currency. introduction of English language education. The The second case was Arakawa Ward in Tokyo, which aspired to revi- other is the smooth transition through the stages of talize its image as “Arakawa, the inter- national city” and “Gateway to Tokyo, the compulsory education period as a result of the the Nation’s Capital.” Arakawa Ward flexible operation of the curriculum. applied and was approved as a special zone for the implementation of inte- grated elementary and junior high 14 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue school English language education, students, in the light of medical the existing system, is rising, and the conducive to the nurturing of inter- knowledge regarding the changes in schools established by corporations nationally minded people. The Narita the human body that occur after the are the result of increased demand. New Rapid Railway linking Narita age of eleven, which is from grade Moreover, in the case of universities Airport with the Tokyo metropolitan five of elementary school. established by corporations, special- district was planned to open in 2010, In questionnaires conducted in all ized graduate schools predominantly with the goal of making metropolitan special zones by the Ministry of Edu- in business administration, universities Tokyo a tourist destination hub by di- cation, Culture, Sports, Science and for the training of advanced technical rectly linking Arakawa Ward’s Technology, with a view to replicat- artists, professional graduate schools Nippori Station with Narita Airport in ing them nationwide, many rated the for teacher training, and others have thirty-six minutes. This special zone fact that initiatives of this kind were been approved. was for the establishment of a special possible, enabling teaching to take Currently, some schools estab- zone research and development school place in accordance with the stage of lished by corporations are offering ex- that would create a flexible curriculum development by linking elementary cellent education content and are and nurture practical communication and junior high school. Special zones widely accepted in the area. However, skills through the medium of English. have the advantage of enabling teach- there are many schools that are beset The third application to be ap- ing guidelines to be drawn up flexibly, with operating difficulties, and 80 per proved was Tome City, Miyagi Pre- thus making it possible for education cent of universities established by fecture. Here, the existing compulsory to respond to the needs of the region corporations and slightly less than 70 education system of six years elemen- and of the times. On the other hand, per cent of senior high schools are in tary school and three years junior high special zones targeted at elementary the red. school (6-3) was replaced by the 3-4-2 and junior high schools also present To realize the potential of schools system: three years lower elementary challenges. Education is compulsory, established by corporations, we must grades, four years middle grades, and and if a student moves then a change investigate the compatibility of indi- two years upper grades, in an effort to will occur in the learning environment vidual companies’ decision-making, instill basic knowledge through a flex- and content. As a result, children based as it is on the need to collect ible curriculum that accords with the themselves will find it difficult to capital from the market and the direc- development stage of the children or cope, and there is a danger that this tive to bring profit to shareholders, takes account of individual difference, could have an adverse effect. How- with the need in school management and to nurture children who are ever, those who cite specific benefits to achieve continuity and stability. We equipped to cope with globalization far outnumber those who voice such need to continually collect information through early exposure to English lan- misgivings, and the initiative has from those schools established by pri- guage education. The aim is to provide taken off from the special zones to be vate companies to help ensure their a continuous nine-year period of com- replicated nationwide. success. Furthermore, it is very impor- pulsory education that follows a con- tant to consider the necessary mea- sistent educational approach. Education by Corporations sures going forward by analyzing the Broadly speaking, these special achievement of the special measures zones have two aspects in common. To date, applications have been made at each educational stage, from ele- One is the fostering of world citizens for a variety of types of school, from mentary school upwards. Expansion through the early introduction of elementary schools to junior high of the school corporation system English language education. The other schools and senior high schools, as nationwide is now under discussion. is the smooth transition through the well as universities. Twenty-eight out Originally, there was a need for stages of the compulsory education of the forty-three so far accredited educational institutions established by period as a result of the flexible opera- have opened. This number comprises corporations because it was anticipat- tion of the curriculum. It has been six universities, twenty senior high ed that the corporate funding that pointed out that such a system may schools, one junior high school, and would be forthcoming would make produce students who cannot ade- one elementary school. possible initiatives that ordinary quately cope with the move from ele- Schools established by corpora- school corporations were unable to fi- mentary school to junior high school, tions are currently confined to special nance. In particular, applications for given that this entails a sudden and zones and have not been replicated senior high schools offering part-time significant change in the education nationwide. In the case of senior high correspondence courses as a new al- content and learning environment, schools, for example, many schools ternative to accommodate students such as the level of difficulty of text- established by corporations are with a record of nonattendance at reg- books, lesson times, and the special- correspondence- course senior high ular schools as mentioned above are ized nature of the curriculum. Debate schools, with many of the students increasing and playing a certain role. is taking place about whether the “6-3” having a record of nonattendance [at system needs to be revised to suit the regular schools]. The number of stu- Koji Takahashi is director of the Office for Administrative stages of development of elementary, dents who are not accepted in the ex- Reform, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and junior high, and senior high school isting school system, or do not fit into Technology, Japan. Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 15 EDUCATION Building Bridges to the course, this alone is not the solution, but in the present situation it is an in- dispensable method to aid the transi- tion into the workforce of young peo- World of Work ple in Japan. Present Situation of Internships Yukie Hori, vice senior researcher at the Japan Institute for Labour Internships from junior high schools Policy and Training (JIL), explains Japan’s initiatives and vision in respect through the mediation of universities of internships. and other public institutions are cur- U rently expanding. As well as universi- ntil the 1980s, Japan was such education is the internship, ties, employers’ associations such as highly rated for the successful which means work experience while the Japan Business Federation and transition of its young people still at school. private-sector companies that wish to into the workforce. The fact The age of young people in Japan attract publicity are also promoting in- that in Japan young people were able making the transition from education ternships. In particular, approximately to make a smooth transition from se- to employment spans a wide range of 90% of universities provide courses of nior high school into a situation of fifteen to thirty-four years, compared study that include internship periods, stable employment, without going on with the global range of sixteen to though the percentage of students par- to university, has come to be appraised twenty-four years. The reason for this ticipating remains at an estimated 20% as the finest aspect of Japan’s postwar is that the time of transition from edu- of the total. Student awareness of dif- education system. cation to employment is late and ex- ferent types of job lags behind the However, the collapse of the bub- tends over a long period, with approxi- system, so it is hoped to expand the ble economy in the 1990s brought a mately 97% of students going on to opportunities for students to find out change in this unique Japanese feature. senior high school, and approximately about the variety of jobs that exist. In the late 1990s, the economic slump 70% of students going on to universi- Various kinds of internship exist. forced companies to drastically reduce ty, junior college, or other vocational For a university, for example, the work their intake of new employees, and this school. While this means that students experience period is around ten days, as well as other factors led to increas- possess higher levels of knowledge while in other settings this may be as ing numbers of freeters and NEETs, and skills, their more advanced age short as a single day, or extend to al- mainly comprising young people who means that they are more likely to ex- most one year. The content, too, var- left school before completing their se- perience difficulties in making the ies, from a quite specialized period of nior high school education. transition. Therefore, it is all the more practical on-site training related to the This was the turning point for the necessary to arrange internships when engineering department of a university start of career education. The focus of young people are still at school. Of where internships have been arranged before, to just a brief glimpse into a company. Status of internships (%) However, students 600 100 who have participated in internships generally 500 have a favorable im- 80 pression, with 80% in 400 one particular survey 60 indicating that they 300 were “quite satisfied.” 40 Their participation 200 aims can be classified into four types: “Want 20 to get work experi- 100 ence,” “Will be useful 0 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 0 for finding a job,” No. of universities with intern programs 104 107 143 186 218 281 317 384 418 447 482 504 “Want to acquire some No. of colleges with intern programs 36 39 57 81 108 127 117 139 155 157 162 170 business experience,” No. of National Technical Colleges with intern programs % of universities sending students 31 35 39 48 52 54 57 57 57 60 60 61 17.70% 18.30% 23.70% 29.90% 33.50% 41.90% 46.30% 55.00% 59.00% 62.50% 65.80% 67.70% and “Want to get some % of colleges sending students 6.40% 7.00% 10.30% 14.70% 21.10% 23.40% 23.90% 29.90% 35.30% 37.80% 40.60% 43.60% specialist knowledge.” % of National Technical Colleges sending students 50.00% 56.50% 62.90% 77.40% 83.90% 87.10% 90.50% 90.50% 90.50% 95.20% 98.40% 100% There are three Source: MEXT types of work that stu- 16 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue dents can experience. One is the “task in the difficulty of securing compa- tional categories other than the ones attainment model” that requires stu- nies that will accept students. Univer- they know. When it comes to students’ dents to attain a task. For example, the sities are looking for companies that hopes, these tend to focus not on what student participants are gathered in a will accept students by making free they themselves are suited or not suit- separate room from the employees, use of the connections of the supervis- ed to, but rather jobs that they know formed into teams, and assigned the ing teacher or the alumni network, but or occupational categories that are task of creating a company homepage. this does not necessarily mean that very popular. So, regarding the ques- This type accounts for around one the company accepting the student tion of whether students who partici- third of the total. The second type is suits the type of occupation the stu- pate in internships in workplaces they the “core business model” that teaches dent desires. Meanwhile, the company do not aspire to are not satisfied, that by showing the work actually per- has to make adjustments to its business is not necessarily the case. In some formed. For example, participants in order to allocate a person in charge cases, they are inspired by the discov- may be allowed to accompany em- if it is to accept the student, for exam- ery of something new. Conversely, al- ployees on business activities. The ple, which leads directly to the prob- though they may have got the place- third type is the “casual/part-time lem of financial burden. Consequent- ment they wanted, they may model,” where the experience is that ly, there is a strong sense of social experience disappointment owing to a of actually working in the workplace. contribution on the part of a company gap between what they had imagined An example of this is the service sec- accepting a student. But aside from and the reality. In order to resolve tor, which has a high percentage of casual and part-time workers. This may lead to the provision of uncom- Some say that their workplaces are revitalized pensated labor and a low level of stu- dent satisfaction, which to an extent simply by young students coming in. If companies cannot be helped. If the goals of students and the are able to experience for themselves benefits content of the experience are matched, naturally the level of satisfaction is such as these, they will continue to accept enhanced. However, the level of satis- faction is nothing more than an im- students and perhaps even expand their intake. pression after participating, and does not relate directly to the effectiveness of the internship, and at present no large corporations, the burden on me- such issues, it is important to expand method of measuring the effective- dium and small-sized companies is the number of companies that will ac- ness has been established. Still more, large, and there is a tendency for them cept students, and to increase the op- many of those who participate in in- to be unenthusiastic. portunities and alternatives for experi- ternships are students with a high However, there are also benefits encing a variety of jobs. level of awareness. This means, or for companies. Many companies had Today’s economic climate is rather the problem with this, is that held off recruiting during the reces- worsening, and for this reason this is internships have the function of con- sion, and a hollow in the generational not an era when everyone can become necting those students who do not structure of permanent employees is a permanent employee, unlike the have a high level of job awareness in occurring. In other words, originally high-growth period. We cannot easily a bottom-up approach. there was the opportunity for employ- say whether internship is the best sys- Consequently, as stated previous- ees in their late twenties to train new tem to bridge the world of education ly, efforts are being made to expand young employees and gain experience, with the world of work, which until the participation of students, and to but now they are advancing in age now have had no ties, but there is no create an awareness of jobs. Presently, without being able to do that, and this doubt that both in Japan and overseas in universities education before and is damaging organizations. Such com- it will continue to be a necessary sys- after the internship is being empha- panies are responding to internships as tem in the future. sized, by for example increasing moti- a good opportunity to fill this gap. In any case, it is necessary to ex- vation prior to participation and Further, some say that their work- pand the job awareness of young peo- providing opportunities following par- places are revitalized simply by young ple. The experience of just one job has ticipation to present their experiences, students coming in. If companies are the possibility to achieve this. In that encouraging students to share the able to experience for themselves ben- sense too, we must ensure that even in ways in which they were inspired. efits such as these, they will continue the present harsh economic climate, to accept students and perhaps even young people are able to make a Challenges of Internships expand their intake. smooth transit ion into society. The problem as far as the students The problematic aspects concerning are concerned is that they have a ten- Yukie Hori is vice senior researcher at the Japan Institute for the implementation of internships lie dency to show no interest in occupa- Labour Policy and Training (JIL). Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 17 EDUCATION Financial Planning for All pendent entities rather than subordi- nate agencies. The governors and vice governors of prefectures and the man- agers of Bank of Japan branches as- sume the position of chairman at the People’s dealings with money are changing significantly under the various organizations. They undertake activities jointly and severally with the impact of advancing IT innovations and financial technologies. Economic Central Council. and social conditions are also undergoing substantial changes with the The Financial Services Informa- progress of globalization. The Central Council for Financial Services tion Council was launched in 1952 as Information supports the economic activities of Japanese citizens by the “Central Council for Strengthening Savings” in a bid to control inflation offering financial education and financial services information. Koichiro following the end of World War II. Shibuya, deputy director-general of the Central Council for Financial The Central Council was set up above Services Information, explains these efforts to the Japan Journal. Journal the organization. After various changes, the Council originally de- I clared 1999 to be the “first year of fi- n broad terms, financial education The Central Council operates under nancial education” for promoting con- fosters the attitude of working in- two pillars, the provision of financial sumer education. In response to dependently toward the creation and economic information and support numerous issues that had arisen in of a more affluent lifestyle and for financial and economic studies, in connection with financial products improved society, while understanding cooperation with parties such as the and the like, the Council once again the various functions of money and Financial Services Agency, the Cabi- brought financial education in schools credit transactions, thinking in depth net Office, the Ministry of Education, to the fore and declared 2005 to be the about life and society based on this Culture, Sports, Science and Techno- “first year of financial education.” understanding, and improving one’s logy, their affiliated bodies and private Since then, the Central Council has personal lifestyle and values. organizations. In other words, activi- operated with financial education and Local Committees established in ties for imparting financial knowledge consumer education as the two the various prefectures and the Central and providing financial education branches of its activities. Council for Financial Services Infor- comprise the core operations of the mation (hereinafter referred to as the Central Council. Background of “Central Council”) act as parent orga- The Central Council and Local Financial Education nizations that foster these activities. Committees are established as inde- Two viewpoints were behind the shift to an emphasis on financial education in schools in 2005. The first was rapid changes involving credit transactions. The second was the importance of lifetime plans. The first viewpoint is that the con- ditions for using, earning, saving and borrowing money have undergone dramatic changes as a result of tech- COURTESY OF THE CENTRAL COUNCIL FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES INFORMATION nological innovations in recent years. For example, in terms of using money, people buy goods and services with credit cards, cellular phones and the Internet. In terms of the conditions for earning money, ways of working have changed significantly for young peo- ple, as demonstrated by phenomena such as job-hopping and permanent part-timers. From the viewpoint of saving, a large variety of complex fi- nancial products with the risk of prin- cipal loss have emerged. From the Hands up who knows what money is.... In collaboration with experts, the viewpoint of borrowing, such financial Central Council provides a range of financial education services for children products may lead to social problems, of elementary-, junior high- and senior high-school ages. including multiple debts in some 18 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue cases. Frequent issues involving adults Japanese citizens are entering a period where financial and minors alike are particularly prob- lematic, including Internet scams. literacy is more important than ever before. Various The increasing number of finan- cial options available to Japanese citi- problems attributable to a lack of basic financial zens is not a problem in itself. How- ever, self-responsibility is the basic knowledge are arising in Japan as well, including assumption for the choices they make. Japa nese citizens need to develop multiple debt problems. There is a growing need to their abilities to live in society with disseminate financial knowledge and provide financial an awareness of the changes. In that respect, the study of credit transac- education under these circumstances. tions is becoming more important than ever before. The second viewpoint, or the im- As stated above, it is critical to nancial education studies. Other portance of life plans, means that fi- offer balanced instruction in the achievements in teacher-student coop- nancial education needs to start early course of school education, relative to eration include a short essay contest and be provided in stages so that the stage of development. on “The Future of Finance and Econo- Japanese citizens can draw up their The Central Council is taking my.” In addition, the Central Council life plans from a long-term perspec- practical steps to popularize the finan- is preparing teaching materials and the tive when they reach a certain age. cial education programs, including like aimed at keeping students safe Financial education opportunities de- sponsoring seminar meetings to sup- from future debt. creased in the postwar period as a re- port the implementation of the pro- As incentives for teachers, the sult of greater urbanization and the grams, and inviting many related par- Central Council for Financial Services trend toward the nuclear family. At ties to open classes at model schools Information is organizing a short present, practical financial education for financial education. essay contest on “Thinking about is only provided in schools. Initiatives To implement the financial educa- Financial Education” for people in- are underway to offer financial educa- tion programs, the Central Council is volved in education nationwide. It tion in line with the various stages of preparing content that can be incorpo- also accepts and rewards practical re- development from early childhood to rated into school subjects such as ports, research findings, proposals and junior high school education, particu- home economics, social studies and the like on financial and economic ed- larly in the nine years of compulsory citizenship, rather than establishing a ucation from a wide spectrum of education. Seminars are now being separate course of study. This content teachers in the field and other people held for teachers in the various regions needs to be improved and made more involved in education. to ensure the smooth progress of in- practical through adjustments made The Central Council is establish- struction on a prefectural basis. How- with the help of working teachers and ing a financial services information ever, schools, homes and local com- other parties. The Central Council is advisory system to ensure the effec- munities need to unite and carry out currently in the process of enhancing tive use of such content and initiatives financial education together, rather the content. When it comes to imple- in financial education. Former em- than leaving the task to the classroom. menting the programs, it is particularly ployees of local financial institutions, important to provide systematic retired teachers and financial planners Financial Education content-based education by age group, are supporting this system as volun- Programs and improve understanding at home teers. People’s sense of money differs and in local communities. from one region to another. The situa- The Central Council produces and of- For example, at the elementary tions in which money is used also fers financial education programs for school level, the Central Council uses vary, depending on factors such as the schools in collaboration with experts. four-panel cartoons with themes such availability of cellular phones and The objectives of these programs are as “how to use money,” “money and convenience stores. It is essential to to offer educational support in four life” and “money and work.” At the implement education that is suitable areas: career education, economic and junior high school level, the Central for local children. For this reason, ex- financial mechanisms, prevention of Council is preparing a supplementary pectations of the advisors are ex- financial problems, and life planning reader called “A Teenager’s Guide to tremely high. and family budget management. They Money,” which covers share transac- On its website, the Central Council are designed to provide knowledge of tions and the like, in addition to orga- publishes outstanding financial educa- areas that are necessary for financial nizing a contest for compositions tion methods, the distinct approaches survival in the real world, including written on the theme of money. in the various regions, and the instruc- credit transactions and the economy, In financial education at the senior tion techniques used by the advisors, and to teach people how to handle high school level, the Central Council in a bid to provide references to parties money based on this knowledge. holds open classes designated for fi- that offer financial education. Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 19 EDUCATION Outlook for ly speculative operations, rather than nese citizens bear in mind the points Financial Education from investment. Japanese citizens explained above, understand their bank need to make a sharp distinction be- deposits and postal savings, and know There is a theory gaining considerable tween the two. The importance of fi- the roles played by their bank deposits support in North America and Europe nancial education is also evident in and postal savings at various life that a lack of financial knowledge on this respect. stages. These requirements demon- the part of consumers was one of the strate that Japanese citizens are enter- causes of the subprime loan issue in Financial Literary ing a period where financial literacy is the United States, which was the more important than ever before. source of the global financial crisis. When Japanese citizens make their life As stated earlier, various problems The view is that that the lenders acted plans, it is essential that they keep fu- attributable to a lack of basic financial illegally, but that the problem may ture requirements for funds at each life knowledge are arising in Japan as not have expanded to such propor- stage firmly in mind. Financial knowl- well, including multiple debt prob- tions if consumers were more finan- cially literate. The United States is already ad- dressing the issue by reestablishing the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, while the Organiza- tion for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is also imple- menting a financial education project. Awareness of the importance of im- COURTESY OF THE CENTRAL COUNCIL FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES INFORMATION parting accurate financial knowledge and the need to provide the financial education necessary for such knowl- edge is rising to an extremely high level, both in advanced and emerging countries. The OECD is showing in- terest in the financial education con- tent advanced by the Central Council according to developmental stage, age and class. Mean while, the Central Council is studying research conducted in other advanced nations. Credit transactions are also particularly rele- vant in the age of globalization. The The Central Council offers public seminars nationwide, where it disseminates Central Council believes that it must financial services information and business start-up planning advice. step up the programs to make them suit the Japanese character and cul- ture, while at the same time giving edge is indispensable for doing so. It lems. There is a growing need to dis- them universal relevance. goes without saying that medium- and seminate financial knowledge and In my view, one point requires at- long-term investment based on such provide financial education under tention with regard to the financial preparations is crucial. The financial these circumstances. crisis. It is the rising trend for avoid- markets are still unstable at present, so Ultimately, Japanese citizens need ing riskier assets in favor of safe as- it is natural for people to take a cau- to become excellent consumers and sets. Bank deposits and postal savings tious stand on investment at this point members of society. In this context, have been extremely heavily weighted in time. However, individuals need to “excellent” means being self-reliant in Japan, compared to other advanced look carefully at their future fund re- and possessing the knowledge and countries. In that sense, Japanese citi- quirements at various life stages, and wisdom required to stay out of trouble. zens share a strong low risk orienta- accumulate the financial knowledge As a matter of course, financial educa- tion. Japan has seen a shift from sav- needed for ascertaining the character- tion is essential for adults. Financial ings to investment in recent years. istics and nature of various financial education from early childhood may There is concern that the negative atti- products in preparation for making seem like an indirect way of going tude toward investment may intensify medium- and long-term investments about it, but it is actually the most ef- as a result of the latest financial crisis. when the turbulence settles down. At fective way. Investment is not something that the same time, needless to say, bank should be rejected. I believe that the deposits and postal savings are impor- Koichiro Shibuya is deputy director-general of the Central financial crisis originated from strong- tant. The important thing is that Japa- Council for Financial Services Information. 20 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue ECONOMY Reworking Employment nancially, creating a cycle that enabled companies to increase productivity. This became one of Japanese companies’ strengths as they were commended for keeping job losses to Professor Yoshio Higuchi, an expert in labor economics at Keio a minimum compared to other coun- tries after the second oil crisis in the University, examines changes in Japanese management in relation to 1970s. Given the results it produced, employment practices and discusses some medium- to long-term even workers were prepared to put up approaches to related issues. with this system. As times have changed however T and Japan can no longer expect to ex- racing employment practices of company unions and the so-called perience such a high rate of growth, back to the 1920s or there- three treasures of Japanese manage- companies have increasingly devel- abouts, the so-called Japanese ment. Needless to say, this was all un- oped a tendency towards trying to cut system of seniority-based pay derpinned by Japan’s soaring growth fixed personnel costs. and life-long employment still didn’t rate. During an economic boom, em- From the standpoint of corporate exist at that time. In those days, the ployment turns into a buyer’s market, financing, the primary objective of the job retention rates of workers in lead- with human resources not attached to major banks that provide companies ing U.S. companies were higher than any company thin on the ground. Natu- with funding is to ensure that they are those in Japanese companies. The rally, companies had to train their own repaid, meaning that it is in their inter- labor market in Japan was extremely human resources and then ensure that ests for companies to maintain stable fluid, with companies facing a situa- a high percentage remained with the growth rather than bringing in short- tion whereby they would train human company once they had been trained. term profits. On other fronts, the idea resources only for them to leave the This gave rise to a system that benefit- of cross holding schemes gained company immediately afterwards. ed workers the longer they stayed with ground as companies tried to safe- Japanese companies went through a a company, namely seniority-based guard mutual growth from a long-term process of trial and error as they tried pay or seniority-based employment. perspective. It was as a result of prac- to increase staff retention rates. Due in In spite of any temporary lulls in tices such as these that Japanese cor- part to a government ban on changing the economy, Japan’s growth rate porate management came to adopt a jobs during World War II, long-term continued to soar. Realizing that they long-term perspective. employment started to become in- would need human resources in any As these trends gradually started creasingly common during the postwar eventuality, companies began to alter to fade away however, and even large period and the early years of Japan’s working hours for their existing companies increasingly started to se- economic boom. human resources rather than resorting cure funding from the likes of institu- With Japan experiencing rapid to layoffs. growth from the end of the 1950s and Under this approach, labor and into the 60s, long-term employment management worked together to en- and seniority-based pay became firmly sure the growth of their company. This established, resulting in the emergence in turn benefited company workers fi- The market is split between non-permanent employees, who have no job security and are paid low wages, and permanent employees, who are under strict restraints requiring them to work long hours. At either end of the scale, employees are in situations that could potentially lead to mental health problems. It is therefore essential that we put an end to this system of polarization and create an environment in which individuals are able to choose how they work rather than management staff. TADASHI AIZAWA —Professor Yoshio Higuchi, Faculty of Business and Commerce, Keio University Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 21 ECONOMY tional investors and overseas share- used to offer a degree of job security, tial that we put an end to this system holders, companies found themselves guaranteeing their employees’ liveli- of polarization and create an environ- having to pursue short-term profits as hoods to a certain extent. In some ment in which individuals are able to well as working from a long-term per- cases, companies have even provided choose how they work rather than spective in order to survive. During employees with a reason for living management staff. the mid to late 1990s, it was often said and guaranteed them opportunities to This is ultimately linked to the that when a company announced it develop their skills. In return for such concept of a work-life balance, some- was restructuring, its share price fell guarantees, companies have always thing that should ideally be promoted because it meant that things were so imposed various restraints on their in a strategic manner. bad that the company had finally been employees, including requiring them The bottom line is that companies, forced to make cutbacks to personnel. to work long hours for instance or the employees and individuals who As major companies began to an- transferring them to different posi- work for them and society as a whole nounce restructuring packages after tions. To put it another way, those all need to think about and engage in this point however, the opposite hap- workers not covered by such guaran- in-depth discussion regarding person- pened. Companies engaging in re- tees are non-permanent employees or nel strategies aimed at striking a work- structuring saw their share prices rise those on fixed-term contracts. Essen- life balance. on the grounds of a positive outlook tially, an increase in the percentage of for the future. To complete the turn- fixed-term and non-permanent em- Work-life Balance around, companies failing to carry out ployees compared to permanent em- restructuring in the face of over- ployees has seriously weakened com- In December 2007, the government employment actually experienced a panies’ ability to offer guarantees to put together a Work-Life Balance drop in their share prices. Managers any of their employees, including per- Charter and an accompanying set of took this on board and, as a result, manent employees. Action Guidelines for a Work-Life began to place a greater emphasis on The key issues now are how to Balance based on an agreement with short-term profit. deal with these changes from the representatives acting on behalf of Amidst such a major turnaround, standpoint of society as a whole rather both employers and employees. managers became more aware of the than individual companies, what sort Whilst the charter sets out a broad need to cut fixed personnel costs than of safety net society can offer as indi- direction for national initiatives, the ever before. This became starkly ap- viduals accept greater responsibility action guidelines outline effective ini- parent in 1997 in particular, as Japan and how people can develop their tiatives for companies and their em- was plunged into financial crisis in the skills. As Japan faces a dwindling ployees and policies for measures to wake of the Asian currency crisis on birthrate, an aging society and a de- be implemented by national and local an international front and develop- clining working population, its top public bodies. ments at home such as the collapse of priority should undoubtedly be to cre- Put simply, having been agreed Yamaichi Securities and the Hokkaido ate a society in which everyone can upon by economic, labor and local Takushoku Bank. This sparked a sig- put their enthusiasm and abilities to leaders as well as the government and nificant change in managers’ approach good use. In order to do this, the tradi- its experts, the charter and action to corporate governance, resulting in a tional relationship between companies guidelines represent an attempt to cap- growing preference for a patchwork and their employees, based on guaran- italize on current initiatives as a major approach to employment whereby tees and restraints, will need to be re- opportunity to spur society as a whole companies strived to keep permanent assessed. In other words, it will defi- into action, based on recognition of employees to a minimum and use non- nitely be necessary to remove existing and reflection on the fact that efforts permanent staff instead. This is what restraints such as long work hours and to reassess existing work patterns to led to current trends in employment. transfers, which restrict access to work date have relied on individual compa- amongst women and the elderly, and nies and have failed to penetrate any Guarantees and Restraints reshape society so that the likes of further into society than a handful of women and the elderly can fully har- successful forward-thinking initiatives. One of the most important points to ness the skills they have to offer. There are three main reasons why consider with regard to management One problem however is the effec- the charter and guidelines were put to- and employment in the future and cur- tive polarization of the labor market. gether in unison between these three rent issues is that the trend towards The market is split between non- parties, namely the government, em- the pursuit of short-term profit will permanent employees, who have no ployers and employees. Firstly, the not be easy to change given the glo- job security and are paid low wages, Aging Society Committee concluded balization of corporate financing. and permanent employees, who are that approaches to work need to be re- Another key point meanwhile is that under strict restraints requiring them assessed in order to deal with Japan’s the role traditionally played by to work long hours. At either end of aging society. Although the govern- Japanese companies in their employ- the scale, employees are in situations ment has continued to work on im- ees lives is changing considerably. that could potentially lead to mental proving financial support, through ini- In the past, Japanese companies health problems. It is therefore essen- tiatives such as the child allowance 22 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue scheme, and childcare services, it has effort needs to be made by all of the mediate and other managerial staff been called upon to address the issue concerned parties nationwide, includ- also need to change their way of of striking a work-life balance based ing corporate management, workers, thinking. At the same time, both men on the perceived need to reassess it as non-workers and local authorities. and women also need to change their another key approach to work. The guidelines specify the roles attitudes in the workplace. Even so, Secondly, the Committee for the Pro- that each of these parties should play. people cannot be ordered to change motion of Gender Equality called for In the case of companies and those their way of thinking; it needs to be a work patterns to be reassessed in order who work for them, the guidelines cooperative process. to provide support for different meth- state that “labor and management It is crucial that changes are made ods of working for women, especially should discuss effective methods based as part of a cooperative process from to enable them to strike a balance be- on the individual company’s situation an overall perspective too, encompass- tween their work and home lives, and ensure that measures are imple- ing the government, private compa- building on the existing Child-Care mented willingly.” In terms of require- nies, individuals and local authorities. Leave Law, which is designed to help ments for the national government and women find employment whilst rais- local authorities, the guidelines state A Shift in ing children. Thirdly, the Council on that “as achieving a work-life balance Individual Attitudes Economic and Fiscal Policy (CEFP) is integral to ensuring the sustainabili- stressed the need to break down exist- ty of Japanese society, the national As attitudes change, both men and ing barriers, such as those between government and local authorities women are increasingly trying to permanent and non-permanent em- should actively provide support for make the most of their time. The issue of how to increase productivity per hour will be crucial for companies in the future, if not already. With this in mind, it is vital that companies reas- It is vital that companies reassess the sess the nature of their operations and work practices in the interests of in- vesting in the future as well as merely nature of their operations and work cutting costs. This approach would also benefit society as a whole as it practices in the interests of investing in the would allow for a diverse range of flexible work patterns and help open future as well as merely cutting costs. up the workplace to human resources that have a great deal of potential but are currently excluded from working. In addition to enabling companies to improve productivity per hour, this ployees and men and women and companies and those who work for would effectively make it possible to those excluding the elderly, in order to them and for public initiatives and ac- forge win-win relationships from the effectively harness human resources tively engage in social infrastructure point of view of both labor and man- given that Japan is expected to experi- development in areas such as childcare agement. Furthermore, judging by ence a dwindling birthrate and aging support and care services in line with successful examples to date, compa- population in the future. a diverse range of work patterns.” nies that develop an awareness of such The fact that the government has For their part, companies need to relationships will undoubtedly become recognized issues such as these under- change the way they think. Given that more competitive. lines the need for a work-life balance. each company has its own circum- In addition to enabling individuals All this stems from recognition that stances to consider and that work pat- nationwide to feel motivated and ful- the current situation, whereby the terns clearly vary depending on the filled as they work and perform their labor market has become polarized, area in which each company is based work responsibilities, as stated in the resulting in non-permanent workers however, it is essential to ensure ex- charter, it is essential that we capital- being unable to marry due to an un- tensive dialogue between labor and ize on initiatives such as these to cre- certain future and permanent employ- management. In that respect, the ac- ate a society in which everyone can ees opting not to have children due to tion guidelines show how to set, pub- choose from a diverse range of life- problems at home as a result of being licize and work towards targets based styles to suit whatever stage of life forced to work long hours, simply has on cooperation between labor and they are at, from child rearing age to to change. management. Looking at examples of middle and old age, at home and in the The action guidelines state that companies that have already started to community as well as at work. achieving a work-life balance is not an implement measures, it is evident that issue to be tackled solely by the na- leadership is required from manage- Yoshio Higuchi is a professor in the Faculty of Business and tional government but that a concerted ment first and foremost and that inter- Commerce at Keio University. Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 23 ENERGY The New Energy Award Industry Prize, the New Energy Award equivalent to the gold prize, was given to the Tsubetsu-Tanpan Cooperative of Hokkaido. The Coop- erative directly incinerates large vol- Recipient projects for the thirteenth New Energy Award were finalized umes of sawdust generated from a local lumber factory that processes in December 2008. Masaki Yamada examines the status of new conifers and recovers electricity and energy development and application in Japan as seen through the heat, thereby reducing waste treatment winning projects. and energy costs for the factory and establishing a more economic woody T biomass cogeneration system. Fossil he New Energy Award was services related to new energy (includ- fuel consumption was reduced by launched in 1996 as the Award ing financial products), actual adoption 24,000 kiloliters per year in crude oil Program for 21st Century Type of new energy by local governments equivalent, along with a reduction in New Energy equipment/ and NPOs, and activities for promot- CO 2 emissions of 69,000 tons. The System and Application (New Energy ing new energy and raising awareness. Cooperative also supplies part of the Vanguard 21; the name changed to Starting in FY2008, a Best Green electricity generated as green electric- New Energy Award in 2000), with the Energy Introduction category was ity, thereby successfully establishing a aim of encouraging the growth of new added for corporations and local gov- business that encompasses forestry, energy by recognizing outstanding ernments that use new energy through lumber manufacturing and biomass new energy equipment and their ap- the Green Power Certification System, energy use. The Award gives high plications. In FY2004, the category of a program for contracting power gen- marks to the innovative and effective the awards was expanded as part of eration using renewable energy. use of woody biomass. improvements geared toward promot- The criteria for examining the The Director-General of the ing new energy. New Energy Award are multi-facetted, Agency for Natural Resources and A total of 146 projects have been and include its innovativeness, track Energy Prize, equivalent to the silver awarded over the thirteen years to record, future potential, economy, and prize, was given to the Bureau of Sew- FY2008. Each has played a significant effectiveness in encouraging use and erage, Tokyo Metropolitan Govern- role in developing and encouraging building awareness. Selections are ment and Sony Corporation. The the use of new energy equipment and made by the New Energy Award Bureau successfully produced carbide systems, with some cutting-edge and Review Board, which consists of ex- fuel from sewerage sludge that was leading examples. Makoto Tanaka of perts in the field. In FY2008, forty-six formerly treated by incineration, and the New Energy Foundation, which applications were received from all used the fuel as biomass fuel to be oversees the New Energy Award parts of Japan, and nine were awarded mixed with coal at coal thermal power under the auspices of the Ministry of as a result of the strict but fair selec- plants. The initiatives to improve the Economy, Trade and Industry, ex- tion procedure. efficiency of energy systems and con- plains the circumstances that led to the vert sludge into an energy resource are establishment of the Award. Projects Praised the main points credited. “The Japanese government devel- Sony Corporation introduced the oped the Basic Guidelines for New The Minister of Economy, Trade and Green Power Certification System in Energy Introduction in 1994, and in re- sponse New Energy Vanguard 21 was established, the predecessor of the New Energy Award. The government began a major effort to promote the use of re- newable energy obtained by solar power and wind power generation and recycling energy exemplified by waste power generation, which were still at a nascent stage at the time the Award COURTESY OF NEW ENERGY FOUNDATIION was established. New Energy Vanguard 21 started hand in hand with these government initiatives.” The New Energy Award is not only given to tangible products such as energy equipment and systems. In fact, there are eight divisions to the Award, The Hokkaido factory of Tsubetsu-Tanpan Cooperative, a lumber which include advanced and unique manufacturer praised for its innovative and effective use of woody biomass. 24 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue Example of a Certificate of ents of composite technologies that Green Power purchased by combine solar power generation and Sony Corporation. fuel cells, and comprehensive services where operation support and mainte- use of new energy, we must deepen nance services are provided instead of understanding among those who are merely selling new energy equipment. not yet familiar with it.” As an exam- We also see businesses making use of ple, the minister mentioned that col- the Green Power Certification System, laboration with other ministries and as evidenced by the establishment in agencies would be sought to adopt FY2008 of the Best Green Energy solar power generation systems in fa- Introduction category. At the outset, cilities of the national government awards were given mostly to new en- COURTESY OF NEW ENERGY FOUNDATIION and railway and other public facilities, ergy equipment and products that so that the public would get to see ac- were newly developed. In recent tual systems. years, many of the recipients have been companies, local governments Beyond Development and NPOs that have adopted energy equipment and have been involved in A look at the recipients of the first activities to encourage the use of new New Energy Vanguard 21 reveal that energy and promote awareness. In they are mostly projects by major other words, new energy is now mov- companies, such as an electric vehicle ing on to the phase of broader aware- 2001 and is the greatest user of green (Toyota Motor electricity among Japanese corpora- Corporation), a tions today. Sony is also actively en- solar power genera- gaged in supporting forest conserva- tion system for tion, which provides fuels for woody multimedia (NTT), biomass power plants. The company a solar power gen- was praised for its contributions in en- eration system for couraging the adoption of new energy, house holds (Sharp in terms of both demand and supply. Corporation) and a Five more entities were also collective wind awarded the Chairman of New Energy power generation Foundation Prize, including Sekisui system (Tohoku COURTESY OF NEW ENERGY FOUNDATIION House for commercializing a ready- Electric Power Co.). built house product that significantly In recent years, reduces CO 2 emissions by utilizing however, “Not only solar power generation systems and large projects by fuel cells (CO2 Off House); Numata major companies Town Government of Hokkaido for but also small and developing a cold energy station uti- midsize companies The carbonized sewerage sludge facility of the lizing large volume of collected snow- and local govern- Bureau of Sewerage, Tokyo Metropolitan fall; and Electric Power Development ments that have Government, praised for the efficiency of its energy for building Japan’s largest wind farm, made sustained ef- systems and for converting sludge into a resource. with an output of 65,980kW. forts to develop and Also, the Forum for the Future adopt new energy Energy, Okayama, which received the have come into focus,” noted Tanaka. ness enhancement, incorporation and Review Board Chair’s Prize, earned The nature of the projects recognized practical application, expanding from recognition for its consistent efforts in also seems to have undergone signifi- the phase of development.” raising awareness of new energy cant changes in the past twelve years. In addition to recognizing cutting- through its natural energy caravan, Tanaka explains: “One of the edge examples and promoting new dispatching lecturers and hosting major changes is that the number of energy development, a major theme of events, which started when the organi- composite projects and comprehensive the New Energy Award is to inform zation set up a solar power generation and diversified services has increased the public of the current status of new facility at a local kindergarten. among recipient projects. In the past, energy through promotional activities, Regarding this year’s recipients, the majority of recipients were for a and to deepen public awareness of en- Minister of Economy, Trade and single technology, such as solar power ergy usage and related issues. Industry Toshihiro Nikai commented generation, wind power generation that, “To continue to encourage the and fuel cells. Today, we see recipi- Masaki Yamada is a freelance writer. Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 25 CULTURE Yokai and the Japanese Mind’s Eye Yokai are one representation of the mental images of the Japanese. The Japanese attached a personal- ity to everything. They believed that Various yokai have been depicted since the middle ages and are the gods of the mountain or water believed to be the roots of modern animation and horror works. The were angry. And shaping such fear closest translation of “yokai” would be “monster”—a strange creature into a form was far too enormous and created within the context of the human world. Every culture in the world difficult a task. They therefore consid- ered the snake or oni the messenger or has a version of this, using different symbolism and forms, yet few have embodiment of these gods’ anger. actually depicted them symbolically as the Japanese have. Kazuhiko Fearful mental images eventually Komatsu, a professor at the International Research Center of Japanese segmented into more minute catego- ries, and people began portraying Culture, discusses the world of Japanese monsters. them in individual forms. As they re- I flect human nature, these mental im- t is believed that monsters were yokai. Under the animistic belief that ages were given personalities and created when humans felt fear. every being that has existed before emotions similar to humans, and peo- For example, the fear of thunder humans possesses a spirit, the snake ple believed their spiritual power is an animalistic instinct, but hu- held a significant role as the most would grow stronger and cause vari- mans began to believe it had a spiritual fearsome creature. ous miracles the more they aged. cause, or that it could endanger their The notion of oni, on the other People called these powers tatari lives. Faced with such difficult-to- hand, came from China as a ghost that (curses), and whenever directed to- comprehend events or phenomena, did not go to the world of the dead, ward humans, they became yokai. humans began to think about the pres- and instead remained among the liv- In Europe, for instance, Christiani- ence of something non-existent or in- ing. What was known as ki was invisi- ty was the basis of this type of seg- visible, and created monsters. Every ble in China but in Japan developed mentation. Europeans clearly distin- culture in the world has created its into a form resembling a human and guished between good and evil or God own characters. that would hold grudges against hu- and devil, and anything unknown that Snakes and oni (demons) are mans, cause natural convulsions and was not God was considered to be the typical forms of ancient Japanese thunder, and spread disease. devil. The Japanese yokai are based A section of the Bakemono konrei (Monster marriage) emaki, in which yokai can be seen carrying betrothal gifts. The tai carp at left is walking to the feast by itself, carrying the tray upon which it will be served. 26 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue on the notion of yaoyorozu no kami horns and fangs became the typical popular in the Edo period, and tengu (eight million deities) that possess representation of oni, and has re- rankings were developed. human personalities, not necessarily mained that way up to the present. distinguished as either good or evil. While oni are depicted nearly the same Yokai as Characters Due to the animistic notion that all everywhere, each region has its own things possess a spirit, every living variation, with its own name and story. The Japanese have always believed being, including humans, is equal in For example, tengu was a yokai that even manmade objects possess a nature, and no god or non-god is either conveyed by priests of the Tendaishu spirit, and anything with a name has ultimately good or evil. People gave sect as its religious enemy, often de- aspects of both devil and god. every being its own story just as they picted in the form of a black kite or a Snakes and oni represented fear in would a human, and the negative emo- crow. Tengu was always portrayed as the form of a yokai, but in time yokai tions from these stories took shape a thief, as in a story of a tengu dis- would come from manmade objects. and were transformed into oni, which guised as an Amitabha (Buddhist This meant that such objects would artists made into pictures. deity) that kidnaps a priest. also possess mystical powers over But in the Edo period (1603– time. If they were not treated careful- Shaping the Invisible 1867), tengu was given a long nose, ly, their devil would arise and inflict As yokai that began as snakes and demons took the form of pictures, they gradually took on more specific personali- ties and appearances. They were naturally influenced by COURTESY OF INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CENTER FOR JAPANESE STUDIES China and the legend of Buddha, of which major parts were portrayed in pictures for those who could not read. This contained evil creatures such as a demon-like pres- ences, animals and snakes that attack Buddha and thwart his practice. Just when the Japanese oni took form is not known, but the thirteenth-century Kitano tenjin engi emaki de- picts oni that create lightning A section of the Hyakki yagyo (Night parade of 100 demons) emaki. Here a biwa lute and cause disease. The yokai appears to be tugging along a reluctant koto zither. appearing in the picture scroll are all minor characters. The Shigisan engi emaki, a fa- influenced by Western missionaries. illness on people or become an oni mous picture scroll and a national Every monastery built in mountains seeking vengeance on them. This has treasure, shows the presence of a go- around the country would have a her- led to the moral of caring for one’s houdouji, a guardian demon which a mit practicing Buddhism, and a tengu possessions. The Tsukumogami emaki COURTESY OF INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CENTER FOR JAPANESE STUDIES master priest manipulates when offer- would always be there. Originally cre- illustrates this well. The word “tsuku- ing his prayers, and which is said to ated within the Buddhist world, tengu mo” symbolizes “99,” which repre- be invisible to common people. As were related as beings possessing sents a multitude of time, experience with the Kitano tenjin, these scrolls knowledge and sword skills, and as a or types. The yokai that appear in the portray yokai even though they are re- presence close to humans. Stories told picture scroll are disposed tools, with ligious scrolls having no need for of tengu protecting humans, guarding eyes and mouths, and they turn into them. Despite their depiction of the the capital city, or granting humans oni to take revenge on humans. But bad aspects of humans, people are sword skills and knowledge. Another from a certain point, people began drawn to the fun aspects of yokai ex- interesting point is that tengu around portraying them as yokai with an oni pressing a human trait, which is por- the country, each with its own person- personality, but clearly defining their trayed in their pictures. ality, were given ranks. People en- origins as tools. From this point on, Forms of oni in those times varied, trusted strong powers to tengu in cre- objects did not evolve into oni. These including features such as horse heads, ating their stories. Thus some people yokai arose from tools with eyes and bull heads and horns, but ultimately saw the tengu as a master practitioner mouths, partially donned an oni trait, the image of a brawny body with with superhuman traits. Tengu became and took on an animal form. By clari- Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 27 CULTURE fying their traits and separating the a mouth, nose, hands and legs, which some, sometimes comical. Modern paths that various mental images took it does not possess, creates a gro- creators can, in a sense, emulate this in becoming an oni, the Japanese took tesque image, and this is believed to tradition while adding new elements their yokai in diverse directions. have started yokai culture. By provid- to create new stories and works. Yokai pictures were drawn purely ing each yokai with a story and per- A recent example is the animated for fun. For example, the idea and sonality, people made characters out movie Spirited Away, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film, which received worldwide critical acclaim, beautifully portrays the traditional world of Japanese yokai. Interestingly, the film’s characters are soundly root- ed in the traditions of yokai. For example, the personified frog that also appears in the Yokai emaki, is not a ghost; it becomes a monster when placed inside the group of COURTESY OF INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CENTER FOR JAPANESE STUDIES yokai. And, as mentioned, tools become yokai in the Yokai emaki and play when humans are not around. “Spirited Away” portrays this essence of yokai as free- transforming beings. Creators—of the Miyazaki film, among others—develop their works beyond the yokai classifica- tions and definitions offered by religion, folklore or stud- A section of the Shigisan engi (Legends of Shigisan temple) emaki, a national ies. Clearly they are inherit- treasure, showing a dashing gohoudouji guardian demon ing the traditions of Japa- nese culture, without being consciously aware of it. method of personifying animals exist- of them. This culture turned into the They simply use their own methods ed from the Heian period (794–1185) yokai pictures loved by people in the and perceptions to portray Japanese when the Chojugiga—known as the Edo period. Townspeople also en- culture’s joy of turning everything root of manga—was drawn. This gave joyed a bit of eeriness in their fashion into a character. clothes to four-legged animals and by lining their staid kimonos with In sum, Japan has a history of cre- made them stand on two legs and per- yokai- print fabric. Yokai, in other ating numerous yokai or characters, form human actions and chores. words, diverted themselves from be- which goes back to its tradition of One medieval story goes some- coming an oni and diversified, turn- personifying everything and creating a thing like this: A traveler staying at a ing into characters, and ultimately story for each character. Today’s noble house hears voices. He hears the into entertainment. yokai, comics and horror culture are furniture having a discussion: “It’s in line with this tradition. night now, let’s sing poems.” Though The Roots of Yokai have symbolized people’s the furniture is quiet during the day it Modern Culture mental images as well as the social starts moving during the night and customs, culture and ideals of the time. sings poems. But as soon as the trav- The creators of modern animation, In that sense, yokai are tools for study- eler shines a light on them, they all re- comics and horror movies are taking ing Japanese people and culture. turn to being normal furniture. good advantage of these traditions. A Looking at the presence of yokai In giving frogs and rabbits cloth- rough example of a yokai tradition is today, which is well beyond a fad, we ing and making them play, people that ukiyo-e are, in a sense, comics find that yokai may be tools not only personified tools. Giving a mouth and that have a laugh at society, and yokai for viewing the past but also the future. nose to an animal, as with the artists are similar in that they drew Chojugiga, does not create a yokai, their characters creatively as an alter- Kazuhiko Komatsu is a professor at the International Research but by personifying a tool by giving it nate form of humans; sometimes fear- Center of Japanese Culture. 28 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue DESIGN Signs for All Times Nations established a design subcom- mittee within the International Council for Breaking the Language Barrier (ICBLB). In 1965, which was Inter- national Cooperation Year, the public Pictograms such as those depicting restrooms, public phones and was invited to create and submit de- signs for seven types of pictogram, restaurants were introduced in Japan at the time of the 1964 Tokyo symbolizing men, women, lavatory, Olympic Games. Their roots, however, reach back much further than information desk and so on, by the that, as pictogram designer Yukio Ota explains. end of the year. It was during this time that the pictograms used at the Tokyo P Olympic Games became a model for ictograms are a visual lan- facilities and so on were highly ac- the pictograms that followed. guage that readily conveys claimed for their effectiveness and Why, then, was the quality of meaning to anyone in the quality. Pictograms came to be used these pictograms so high? Masaru world, transcending language at all Olympics and World Expos Katsumi, who served as the art direc- barriers. The 1964 Tokyo Olympic held thereafter. tor for the pictograms used at the Games turned out to be a prototype At the time, there were active in- Tokyo Olympic Games, stated, “It that showcased their impact to the en- ternational movements in favor of was the tradition of crest designs in tire world. A total of sixty pictogram using pictograms to provide guidance Japan that we attempted to put to good designs symbolizing sporting events, to the public. In 1964, the United use in our design policy.” I, too, be- lieve that the outstanding designs were born in Japan because crests have been part of the daily lives of Japanese people for a long time. The use of family crests in Japan commenced during the Heian period (794–1185), when the nobility dis- played them on cow carriages and other items as family symbols. During the period of warrior families that fol- lowed the Heian period, family crests were displayed on armor, standards and banners on battlefields to discern friends from foes, and as an easy-to- spot symbol for deeds of valor. Not only the ruling classes of the nobility and warriors, but also common people such as shop owners and artistic per- When designing a pictogram, the creator needs to gain technical and cultural insights into the two aspects of selflessness and the necessity of eliminating everything other than the necessary elements. The same applied when family crests were designed. TADASHI AIZAWA —Tama Art University Professor Yukio Ota Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 29 DESIGN formers used family crests as a symbol generation. The Japanese people have process of creation. It is also worth of the family, kin or trade. Even always cherished the crest designs noting that the act of using pictograms today, many people dress themselves thus created, and have kept them with is the act of eliminating national lan- in formal attire adorned with the fami- them in their daily lives. guage barriers. Along with the ano- ly crest on ceremonial occasions. nymity of the creator, the design work Family crests have been passed down Olympic Symbols involves a process of blending into in- for over 1,200 years as a part of Japa- ternational society. When designing a nese culture. Yoshiro Yamashita, who designed the pictogram, the creator needs to gain I believe that one of the reasons symbols for the sporting events at the technical and cultural insights into the why family crests have also been Tokyo Olympic Games and Sapporo two aspects of selflessness and the ne- passed down through the generations Winter Olympic Games, notes the fol- cessity of eliminating everything other among common people in Japan, un- lowing three basic policies that were than the necessary elements. The same like in the West where they have maintained for finalizing the designs: applied when the family crests men- mainly been passed down by the nobil- (1) design the symbols like those of a tioned above were designed. ity, is because the quality of the design visual language; (2) represent the es- What, then, is a visual language? created to symbolize each family has sential features of each sporting event; It is a language that enables the essen- been maintained. These are designs and (3) make the designs simple and tial meaning to be understood visually that are convincing and satisfying to clear. The ultimate aim of the designs, at a glance, irrespective of differences everyone who sees and uses them. A he says, was to eliminate everything such as whether the viewers are adults family crest needs to have a design other than the essential elements. or children, or differences in levels of that can serve as a symbol of solidari- The same applies to the emergen- education, knowledge, or academic ty, equal in quality compared to others cy exit sign that was approved as the degrees. It is a skill that everyone ac- and exceptional in all aspects, while at world standard symbol in 1985. The quires by accumulating experience in the same time being capable of culti- International Organization for Stan- daily life. Pictograms are prototypes vating a sense of affection and pride dardization (ISO) almost adopted the that aim to establish the most impor- among users across generations. This pictogram design submitted by the tant type of communication using vi- is something astonishing. (former) Soviet Union. However, the sual language. Today, people repre- How were these family crests cre- design submitted by Japan at a later senting 135 countries and regions are ated? We use a technique of Japanese date was highly acclaimed, and it was studying how to unify pictograms and painting referred to as simplification. adopted as the international standard. turn them into a common language. Simplification is a process whereby The chairperson of the Subcommittee As typically represented by the the necessary and unnecessary ele- at the time is recorded to have com- signs that indicate an emergency exit ments of the object are singled out to mented, “We are grateful for the sub- or tsunami danger, pictograms include eliminate all unnecessary elements, mission of such an outstanding design. signs for saving lives. These are com- and a design representing the essential Good designs are worth considering, mon assets of society. For this reason, characteristics of the motif is created. even if they are received late.” This pictogram designs need to be perfected Simplification is carried out to con- also indicates how highly the design so that no one in the world can ever dense the meaning into a form. If there was rated. misunderstand their meanings. In the is any unnecessary element in the Pictogram designs should not be pursuit of this objective, it would be form, its meaning is difficult to dis- created to suit the designer’s taste. unforgivable if pictograms were used cern. If properly simplified, the mean- The characteristics of the motif need to achieve personal benefits. We need ing will be conveyed with more im- to be fully condensed into a simple to be extremely prudent about how pact, accompanied by an image that form and clearly represented. This is they are used. transcends the meaning. This is where quite difficult for commercial design- Today, everyone is a member of a the richness of the design is found. ers, who are expected to express their global community that extends beyond Richness results in appealing effects, identity as artists. It is extremely diffi- national borders, whether we like it or and the beauty and power of an order- cult, and even distressing, to identify not. To achieve results through global ly form is imprinted deep in the mind the indispensable representation of the cooperation, relationships could not of viewers at a single glance. As such, theme and force oneself to abide by it. be established between people if we designers of family crests were re- Many abandon the effort unconscious- did not understand each other’s lan- quired to possess the ability to narrow ly during the process. In such cases, guages. In this regard also, pictograms down the elements used in the form to the users of the pictogram cannot need to be cultivated with great care make the essential characteristics visi- identify themselves with the represen- as a communication means common ble. Furthermore, they were required tation. Each time they see the picto- to everyone on Earth. It is my sincere to work selflessly, without even in- gram, they have to eliminate the inter- hope that everyone will view picto- cluding their names. Only when these fering identity of the creator, and then grams this way. requirements had been met were the elucidate and discern what is repre- Japanese family crest designs created sented. As such, it is extremely impor- Yukio Ota is a professor at Tama Art University and director of and handed down from generation to tant for the creator to be selfless in the N.P.O. Sign Center. 30 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue particularly in the Genroku years when peace Family Crests prevailed and cultural activities flourished, family crest designs became more decorative and delicate. Family crests representing a fam- There is a wide variety of family crests, which ily or lineage were disseminated widely, not are categorized into the following: plant crests only among warriors and the nobility who with motifs such as hollyhocks, linen leaves, were allowed to have a surname, but also rice plants, plum flowers, chrysanthemums, among common people as a logo mark, or a cherry blossoms and bamboo; animal crests crest design inscribed on tombstones. depicting horses, birds, wild geese, cranes, As noted, there are around 200 prototypes and doves; natural phenomenon crests de- of family crest designs. Among them, wisteria, rived from thunderbolts, beaches, the moon, paulownia, hawk wings, melon, and oxalis, stars, waves, and mountains; structure/ from which the greatest number of family artifact crests of paving, round fans, fan- crests are derived, are referred to as the five shaped fans, carriages, bows and arrows; and major motifs. patterned crests of fish scales, tortoiseshell, Wisteria motifs are designs derived from and bull’s eyes. It is said that there are over wisteria flowers and leaves, and many fami- 20,000 types of family crest designs, of which lies whose names use the Chinese character the prototypes number 200. The multiplication meaning wisteria, such as Fujiwara, Kato, and of the prototypes by several hundredfold is a Saito, use wisteria motifs. The paulownia mo- reflection of the Japanese family system. tifs, based on paulownia flowers and leaves, According to the system, the first son inherits were used as family crests for royal families, the household from his father, and the other along with chrysanthemum motifs. They were sons establish new households by separating graciously bestowed by the royal families to from the household of their birth. At the time the Shogun families, and then to their subor- of separation, an approved version of the fam- dinate warriors. Today, they are relatively ily crest of the main household was created. popular. Motifs that became popular among Family crests originally began to be used warrior families during the Edo period in- when noble families and warrior families clude hawk wing motifs, melon motifs de- started designing them based on the above rived from cut melons and melon plants, and motifs and displaying them on cow carriages oxalis motifs, which is another plant design and standards, banners and armors, to show that became popular following paulownia. the might of the family. During the Kamakura All the designs are simple yet beautiful period (1185–1333) when warriors came into and elegant. This must be why family crests political power, their family crests began to be have been passed down to this day, and why used on clothing as well. Warrior families they are at the source of pictogram designs began to display their family crests on formal originating in Japan. attire. During the Edo period (1603–1867), Hitoshi Chiba Five examples of Japanese family mon, or crests Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 31 SOCIETY Three Lanes to Safer Roads According to data released in February by Japan’s National Police most other countries the time frame is thirty days,” explains Senior Super- Agency, road accident fatalities in 2008 were at their lowest level for intendent Katsumi Ikeda from the more than fifty years. Advances in automobile safety technologies, strategy section of the road safety divi- improvements to the road system itself, and tougher regulations have all sion at the NPA. Could this mean that played a part. With a focus on the last of these, Gavin Blair explains the the drastic reduction in deaths is mere- ly a statistical anomaly caused by im- reasons for the decline in road deaths. provements in medical treatment that W keeps victims alive long enough for hile Japan’s streets are fa- throughout that decade. In 1980, they them to be discounted from the road mously safe in terms of once again began rising in tandem fatality figures? The answer, thankful- the low levels of violent with the increased total distance being ly, is no. The NPA also keeps statistics crime, the same could not driven by the population, going back on those who pass away within thirty always be said of the country’s roads, over the 10,000 mark by the end of days of an accident, and those have where death and serious injuries were the 1980s. fallen at almost the same rate. once not uncommon consequences of The mass of statistics compiled by traffic accidents. However, a concerted the National Police Agency (NPA) on Strict Laws on national effort has halved road fatali- traffic accidents can make confusing, Drink Driving ties, and cut by 80% those caused by and sometimes apparently contradic- drink driving. The figures for accident tory, reading, showing as they do fa- Two of the major reasons for the de- deaths last year showed just over 5,000 talities falling sharply while the num- cline in road deaths are the dramatic people killed on the roads—numbers ber of accidents and injuries rises. drop in the number of accidents in- that low were last seen in 1953. Indeed, during the 1990s, as the annu- volving drink driving, and those at A combination of legal, social and al fatality figure once again fell below very high-speeds—considered to be technological factors has saved tens of 10,000, the total number of annual in- over 80 km/h (50 mph) in Japan. thousands of lives even as the number juries broke the one million mark for Up until around fifteen years ago, of cars has risen alongside the rapid the first time. attitudes to drunk driving were sur- growth of the elderly population, who “One thing that is different from prisingly relaxed given that Japan is, are much more likely to suffer fatal the way these statistics are measured on the whole, such a law-abiding and injuries if involved in accidents. in other countries is that in Japan, rule-governed society. In the event The number of annual traffic acci- cases of road traffic fatalities are con- that drivers were stopped at the infre- dent fatalities actually peaked back in sidered to be those who die within quent roadside police checks on their 1970 at over 16,000, before falling twenty-four hours of an accident. In way home from a night out, a quick exhalation that didn’t reek of alcohol, delivered in the general direction of the officer, was often enough to ensure a motorist’s journey homeward con- tinued without further action. “The truth is there used to be a real lack of proper breathalyzer kits for the po- lice,” admits the NPA’s Ikeda. The law and social attitudes to- wards drink driving have hardened, and annual deaths due to such acci- dents are 20% of what they were in 1993. In 2002 the blood-alcohol level deemed legally safe to drive with was reduced from 0.25 milligrams (mg) per liter to 0.15 mg. By comparison, GAVIN BLAIR the average in Europe is 0.5 mg and is Signs at the roadside showing the number of traffic accidents (top), 0.8 mg in the United Kingdom. At the fatalities (middle) and injuries (bottom) recorded by the police during the same time a more serious offence of day in the local area (left) and wider prefecture (right) serve as a constant drunken driving was created for mo- reminder to motorists and pedestrians of the need to be vigilant. torists who were judged to be severely 32 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue Trends in traffic accidents in Japan ���������� ������ ��������������� ����� ������ ��������������������������������������� Notes: ������ ����� �������������������������������� 1) Since 1960, figures include minor ������ accidents such as injury requiring ��� less than eight days to be cured or ����������������� ������ property damage under ¥20,000. ����� ��� 2) Since 1966, figures exclude property damage. ����� ���������������������������������������� ��� 3) Since 1972, figures include those ����� ���������������� of Okinawa Prefecture. ��� 4) The figures for the leap year are ����� calculated on 366-day basis. � � ���� ���� ���� ���� ���� ���� ���� ���� ���� ���� ���� ���� ���� Source: National Police Agency impaired by alcohol, irrespective of 500,000 yen fine. The same penalties of the over sixty-fives—around twice blood-alcohol level. now apply for merely being a passen- the percentage in Europe or the United The 2002 law was partially a re- ger in a vehicle, in the knowledge that States. This figure includes pedestri- sponse to an accident involving a the driver is drunk. ans and appears to be largely account- drunken trucker who crashed into a The first few court cases involving ed for by the large elderly population. car on an expressway causing it to the new laws inevitably drew much A range of measures including burst into flames. A video showing the attention as bartenders and passengers regular tests checking elderly drivers’ truck swerving erratically around the protested their ignorance and inno- mental faculties and eyesight, have road, and then the desperate mother cence. Ikeda explains that the authori- been introduced. In 2008 a law requir- unsuccessfully trying to save her two ties have worked closely with hotelier ing an elderly driver’s badge to be young children from the burning car, associations at educating staff in the displayed by the over seventy-fives was repeatedly shown on Japanese hospitality industries as well as intro- was passed. “A lot of people objected TV. Then in 2006 another high-profile ducing warning labels on alcohol and to it on privacy grounds, and also ap- accident occurred when a young driver “designated driver” key chains. parently they didn’t like the design ei- who had been drinking rear-ended an ther. The law is still on the books, but SUV on a bridge, knocking it into a Driving and the Elderly we’re not enforcing it now,” says river. The two parents escaped but Ikeda with a smile. their three young children perished in The reduction in the number of acci- Technological improvements in the vehicle. Ikeda is able to identify dents involving speeds of over 80 car safety over the years, such as ABS the dates of these two accidents on the km/h—down approximately two- brakes and airbags, have certainly con- graph of road fatalities, by the sharper thirds over the last decade—has been tributed to reducing accident deaths. drops shown immediately afterwards, achieved without major changes in the Better use of available technology— even before the subsequent law related law. “The fact that the popula- the wearing of rear-seatbelts became changes came into effect. It is the tion of young people is falling has al- compulsory in 2008—is also helping. change in societal attitudes towards most certainly contributed to the de- Advancements in existing technology drinking and driving in response to creased incidences of reckless driving. look set to play their part in the near these accidents that may be saving Better road safety education has also future. The NPA is currently involved hundreds more lives even than the played its part,” suggests Ikeda. in testing a system in the Odaiba bay- new stiffer legal penalties. Strategic police crackdowns on motor- side area of Tokyo that will send sig- The resulting law change in 2007 bike gangs and illegal road-racing nals from sensors at road junctions, di- increased the maximum prison sen- groups have also helped make Japan’s rectly to car navigation units. The units tence for drink driving to five years, roads safer places to drive. will then give audio warnings to driv- from three, and doubled the maximum With the fastest-aging population ers, such as, “pedestrians crossing on fine to 1 million yen (10,300 dollars). in the world, Japan is experiencing the left” or “motorbike coming up the The penalties for anyone considered issues that other countries will shortly inside right.” Although the point where to have aided and abetted drunk driv- be facing. A growing population of el- human error can be eliminated from ers have also been greatly strength- derly drivers—classified as aged over driving hasn’t quite been reached yet, ened over the years. In fact, lending a seventy-five in Japan—is one such this is certainly another step in that di- car to someone known to be under the phenomenon. Ikeda points out that, rection. In the meantime, both the au- influence now attracts the same penal- contrary to popular belief, older driv- thorities, and drivers, can continue to ty as actually driving while drunk. ers do not have more accidents than work on ways to make the nation’s Similarly, serving alcohol to someone younger drivers, though they are more roads safer for everyone. in the knowledge they are driving likely to die if they are involved in after wards now carries a maximum crashes. In fact, nearly half of the fa- Gavin Blair is a freelance journalist living in Tokyo who writes prison sentence of three years and talities in traffic accidents is made up for publications in the United Kingdom, United States and Asia. Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 33 COOL EARTH 2050 The Land of the Rising Sun Despite dark clouds hanging over the Japanese and world economies, At the PV expo, Mitsubishi Elec- tric unveiled a polycrystalline solar at Japan’s annual solar power exposition the sun was shining, reports cell with a record-breaking 18.9% Tony McNicol. conversion efficiency (the percentage O of sunlight the cells convert to elec- nce the world’s top solar new “feed-in tariff” system in Japan. tricity). Kyocera had its own compet- power producer and consum- Presently, utilities voluntarily buy ing high-efficiency cell at 18.5%. Not er, Japan has been put in the electricity from domestic solar panels far away, Sharp displayed a range of shade by Germany and China at 24 yen per kilowatt hour. But products including a solar cell module in recent years. But Japan is deter- Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade for residential use with a class leading mined to regain its reputation as the and Industry plans to submit a Diet bill efficiency of 14.4%. The company is land of the rising sun. Photovoltaic which will force them to pay 50 yen the second largest solar cell producer power is one of twenty-one priority per kilowatt hour. In a system based in the world after Germany’s Q-Cell, CO2 reducing technologies identified on German legislation, power compa- and has the lion’s share of the Japa- by the government. nies are expected to raise electricity nese domestic market. And to see the excited crowds at bills to cover the additional expense. More exotic solar cells were also the second International Photovoltaic The price would be fixed for ten years. on show. Several stalls had CPV cells Power Generation Expo in Tokyo this “Now, the quicker people buy the which use lenses to concentrate sun- February, you would never guess there solar panels, the cheaper the power light onto photovoltaic cells, and are was a world recession. The trade show will be—that’s the incentive,” says motorized to follow the sun for maxi- featured 452 companies from twenty- Taichi Ozawa, a senior specialist at the mum exposure. CPV are particularly two countries and attracted some New Energy Foundation in Tokyo. suited to large scale generating plants, 37,350 visitors over its three-day run Only a few years ago Japan led being more efficient, but also more —a third more than attended the pre- the world in solar panel installation, expensive than regular cells. One such vious year. but the rate peaked in 2005—perhaps site was set up last year by Japanese The big news at the expo was the not coincidentally around the time steel manufacturer Daido Steel. The government subsidies for solar experimental 30 megawatt plant in panel installation phased out. Aichi Prefecture is the largest CPV The intention was to subsidize system in Japan. installation until prices came Another emerging technology is down to affordable levels. “At super-thin and transparent solar cells the time the first subsidy ended, that can be built into walls and win- the government said that the dows. Kyoto-based Evatech brought a price had come down enough, large see-through solar cell to the but sales haven’t been strong expo. According to a spokesman for since,” says Ozawa. In January the company, such panels could one this year the government day generate electricity while dis- brought in a new subsidy guised as tinted office windows. scheme. From April, 70,000 yen in support will be available Recession-defying for each kilowatt of solar panel installed in domestic homes. Japanese manufacturers have an- Two other factors key to nounced recession busting plans to solar power adoption are cost boost solar cell production. Last and efficiency. The use of silicon November, Sharp unveiled a joint is crucial to both. In recent years venture with Italy’s largest power a run on polysilicon, a derivative company, Enel, to develop solar of sand also used to make semi- power plants in Italy with an annual ALL PHOTOS TONY McNICOL conductors, has strangled pro- generating capacity of 189 megawatts duction and driven up prices. by 2012. The two companies, plus a The challenge for manufacturers third unnamed partner, will also build is to make cells thinner and thin-film solar cell factories for the Flexible thin solar cells on display at PV cheaper with less silicon, while European market. Expo 2009 still maintaining efficiency. Earlier this year Kyocera an- 34 Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue The Power of Technology Japan’s targets are ambitious and rely heavily on technological prowess— luckily the nation’s strongest card. But, of the solar cells made today, the vast majority are based on a design unchanged in its basic principles since the 1950s. Such cells typically have an efficiency of 10% to 15%. Considerable improvement will be needed if solar power is to compete with fossil fuel. The upper efficiency limit for sili- con cells is probably around 20%, but Visitors examine a transparent solar cell at PV Expo 2009 in the prototype stage now are ad- vanced cells which use innovative materials like organic dyes and quan- nounced it would expand its solar ergy sources are growing even more tum nanostructures. Such exotic de- module manufacturing factory in quickly. Six percent of Germany’s en- signs could theoretically give efficien- Tianjin, China. The company aims to ergy comes from wind, and renewable cies of up to 50%. quadruple production for the Asian energy provides 15% in total. In fact, Japan is aiming for a ten-fold in- market there by 2011. Meanwhile, Germany is one of the few developed crease in solar power use from 2005 Sanyo Electric and Nippon Oil Corpo- countries on course to meet its Kyoto levels by 2020. In the longer term, the ration (Eneos) announced in January treaty targets. government hopes new technology that they would form a joint solar- Nor is the recession deflecting the could dramatically reduce the cost of panel producer, Sanyo Eneos Solar nation from its green goals. “Germany solar power and make it a viable option Co. They plan to output one gigawatt has realized that our renewable energy to replace conventional energies. At of solar cells a year by 2015. industry—now that we have this reces- present, a kilowatt-hour of solar power Japanese companies are clearly sion in established industry—can be a costs 46 yen. According to the govern- determined to catch up with their in- ternational competitors. But why has Germany’s solar power industry, for example, been so successful? Tobias Homann, on the Germany Trade and Invest GmbH stall at the PV expo, says the biggest success factor was the renewable resources act in 2000. Germany was one of the first coun- tries to introduce a feed-in tariff and now fifty countries have followed their example. The legislation guaranteed that consumers could sell their solar- generated electricity back to the grid at a price fixed for twenty years. In addi- tion, five percent of electricity bills goes to support all renewable energy. “We have always had strong science An exhibitor shows off his company’s CPV and technology, and we have been re- (concentrating PV) cells at PV Expo 2009 searching photovoltaics for decades,” says Homann. A lot of the innovation has been led by small and medium- key industry for Germany’s industrial ment’s road map for development, that sized companies based in eastern future,” says Homann. “German banks could come down to 14 yen by 2020, Germany, the so-called solar valley. consider renewable energy projects as and seven yen by 2030—the dirt-cheap Japan looks set to follow conservative investments.” As for price of thermal electricity today. Germany’s example. One percent of consumers, Homann says, “People Germany’s electricity comes from would rather put their money on their Tony McNicol is a freelance journalist and photographer based solar power and other alternative en- roofs than invest in shares.” in Tokyo. Highlighting JAPAN —through articles— March Issue 35 Highlighting JAPAN E-mail Newsletter You can register at the link below to receive monthly updates alerting you when a new edition of Highlighting JAPAN becomes available. REGISTER ONLINE https://mail.gov-online.go.jp/eng/hlj/newsletter_index.html
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