“Japanese” Style

TAKII Kazuhiro(Professor)
November 15, 2023

I am leading Team Research Group on “Japanese-style” education. Japan’s foreign policy at present includes a policy to export what is being called “Japanese-style education,” namely the resources and methods used in Japan’s education system. Our purpose is to explore what to make of this, even though I never thought that I, having no background in the study of education, would be involved in an education research group.

I have previously led a Nichibunken Research Project on “the Japanese-style state.” This looked to investigate the import into Meiji Japan of the sovereign state, that leviathan which emerged in the modern West. I wanted to understand the manner of its adoption, the type of state that subsequently took shape in Japan, and the influence that this had in other regions of the world.

 There were various reasons for my embracing an interest in this subject, but one was a request from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan to address a team from Iraq after the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime. The team was to visit Japan to investigate the process of promulgating a constitution. Unfortunately that visit never came to pass due to an intensification of suicide bombings in Iraq. But it made me think about the possible uses for Japanese history. It struck me that Japan’s modern history, and the making of its modern state, may have surprising lessons for international society.

 However, one needs to be cautious about merely singing the praises of Japan’s history or the Japanese state, and it may well be that Japanese today no longer have the sort of pride that would encourage them to think in that way in any case. To talk of a “Japanese style,” to ask what Japan might contribute, offers one way of leading a reclusive Japan out beyond its own borders. Thinking through “Japanese styles” allows Japan to explore its own characteristics and ways of being through interaction and dialogue with the outside world. There is a real need for this.

 At the time of the Meiji Restoration, Kido Takayoshi said that “the domain of Chōshū offers the means to heal Japan.” We might follow his example, and propose that Japan offers a means to aid the world. This is the value of reflecting on “Japanese style.”


(For Reference)From the home page of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

(For Reference)From the home page of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology