Amid the controversy over Japanese students’ falling scholastic standards, the most serious concern stems from the poor abilities of graduate students. This problem arose from the mistaken policy, introduced in 1990, of expanding graduate-school education.

A case in point is economics. Before 1990, all new students in pre-doctorate economics courses aspired to become scholars. Those who enrolled in graduate schools tended to be mavericks who had given up finding nonacademic jobs. They had studied advanced economics on their own as undergraduates. As a result, the level of education for first-year graduate students was very high and all of them acted like scholars in their own rights. The level of their master’s treatises was likewise high and some were printed by academic journals under peer review.

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