The Liberal Democratic Party has a thing for archery. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s financial policies comprise “three arrows.” The symbolism is based on the old Japanese saying, “Three arrows are harder to break.” Since “Abenomics” has proven to be a PR success, at least with the electorate, he’s using the same metaphor to push his education agenda, a “three-arrow” approach that 1) reclaims dominance in the areas of science and math, 2) emphasizes IT education and 3) improves English language skills.

This third prong accompanies a belated acknowledgement that current methods for teaching English in junior high and high schools is inadequate to the task of producing workers who can meet the “challenges of an increasingly globalized society.” In terms of national interest English proficiency is seen as being an economic benefit, and thus a carrot-and-stick approach has been adopted to bring about the desired result.

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