Commentary Topics

May 27, 2014

Taking aim at Japan's gender problem

by Douglas Schules

Media coverage of the rise and fall of Japanese scientist Haruko Obokata illustrates the problem with the third arrow of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic policy — and its otherwise laudable goal of expanding the participation of women in positions of power.

May 25, 2014

Funding higher education

by Takamitsu Sawa

The percentage of Japanese high school graduates entering university is not growing as fast as one would expect. It is well below the average ratio for the 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

May 20, 2014

Design tests to measure priority outcomes

by Walt Gardner

The discovery of fraud in the adminstration of the high-stakes TOEFL and TOEIC tests is disturbing, but the larger issue — which has been given short shrift — is that these tests are designed to emphasize written English rather than spoken English.

May 9, 2014

Japan should treat test scores with discretion

by Walt Gardner

Although the education ministry's decision to allow local boards of education in Japan to make public the results of achievement tests for individual schools appeals to those who are frustrated by what they perceive as a lowering of standards, the tests are far too ...

May 2, 2014

Rethinking Japan's whaling

by Chikako Nakayama

Although many Japanese seem indifferent to the question of whether they can get whale meat, pro and con reactions in and out of Japan will affect those who still live by whale hunting on a local scale.

Apr 27, 2014

Politicians running in place

by Jiro Yamaguchi

Today, there's not so much political competition in Japan between the ruling and opposition camps as there is among opposition parties seeking to ally themselves with the ruling camp. Have individual lawmakers become less willing to take risks by speaking up?