Japanese Education Reform: Nakasone's Legacy

Japanese Education Reform: Nakasone's Legacy

Japanese Education Reform: Nakasone's Legacy

Japanese Education Reform: Nakasone's Legacy


Many feel that Japanese education system is stunted by an inability, or perhaps even an incapacity, to change. This study challenges these contentions and examines the reform policies implemented by Prime Minister Nakasone during the 1980s.



Nakasone as number one

The purpose of this chapter is to provide an understanding of Nakasone himself through an analysis of his background and his leadership style. This will then be developed to show how he became the central figure in the education reform debate. Finally, this chapter concludes by showing how Nakasone ensured that his influence would be paramount in the education reform debate through the establishment of an ad hoc council, to which many were appointed that were sympathetic to his ideologies.

Nakasone's background

Nakasone was born in 1918 in Gunma prefecture. After graduating from elementary school in Takasaki, and spending four years at the local middle school, he went to Shizuoka High School. After graduating from Tokyo Imperial University in 1941, he entered the Ministry of Home Affairs (Naimushō), before enlisting in the Imperial Navy. After the war he joined the Metropolitan Police Board. He then returned to his home city and in 1947 was elected to the Lower House as a member of the Democratic Party (Minshutō). He was then involved in the various stages of the evolution of the party, being known as one of the 'young Turks' whilst in the Reform Party (Kaishintō), before the creation of the LDP in 1955 (Nakasone 1992; Nakasone 1997a:1-2; Nakasone 1997b; Nakasone 1999: Narai 1988; Kishimoto 1988:32, 94-5).

Nakasone got his first cabinet post, in the Science and Technology Agency, in 1959 as a member of the second Kishi cabinet. By the end of the 1960s he had risen to become Minister of Transport. In 1970 he became Director General of the Defence Agency, a post that he was particularly pleased to receive (Nakasone 1997b:301-2). His influence within the party continued to grow as he became Minister of International Trade and Industry in the first Tanaka cabinet in 1972, and then headed the LDP committee on the 1976 oil crisis. By the time he became the Administrative Management Agency Director in the Suzuki administration in 1980 he had shown his determination to pursue his own ideologies and that he was prepared to take the initiative and show strong leadership. (See Appendix 1 for further outline of Nakasone's life.)

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