It is no exaggeration to say that Japan's national universities are being forced to implement unprecedented reforms. It is the government — the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, in particular — that is forcing such reforms on them. There are three reasons for this:

(1) There are too many national universities in Japan. They number 86 now. On top of that, there are 90 universities run by prefectural or municipal governments and 606 private ones.

Japan's percentage of high school graduates advancing to study at universities is among the lowest among the industrialized countries, and has been on the decline in recent years. In fiscal 2013 (April 2013 through March 2014), only 49.9 percent of those finishing secondary education went on to university, not counting junior colleges.