"My daughter can solve algebraic differentiation and integration." "My son reads the Nikkei Shimbun every morning." "My child has read 'War and Peace.' "

So what's the big deal, you may well wonder? The big deal is that the sons and daughters of these proud parents are all 3 and 4 years old. What they have in common is that they have all experienced "early intervention" education designed to develop the right side of the brain.

Early intervention took off in the '80s during the bubble economy, when elitism and one-upmanship were rising like Japan's land prices. Not only universities and high schools, but even elementary schools and kindergartens began to require entrance exams. The age of children entering juku (cram schools) got younger and younger, until finally, early education centers began to appear.