History of Higher Education in Japan

The modern Japanese higher education system was adapted from a number of methods and ideas inspired from Western education systems integrated with their traditional Shinto, Buddhist and Confucianist pedagogical philosophies. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, many major reforms were introduced in the field of higher education across Japan, which contributed to individual work of students, as well as the nation's overall originality, creativity, individuality, identity and in internationalization of higher education. Plunging itself through an active process of Westernization during the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Japan sought to revitalize its entire education system, especially at the higher education level to transmit Western knowledge for industrialization. Many Japanese students were sent abroad to Europe to study as were a number of foreign scholars from Western countries were introduced to Japan as well. During the 1880's, Japan sought to search for an higher education system prototype to model in which it to suit its national needs. In 1881, the Meiji Government decided to convert its institutional model, influenced from a variety of Western countries such as Great Britain, the United States and France, to a strictly German model as the Prussian oriented State model of higher education greatly interested the Meiji government at the time. Germany served as the largest inspiration for the modern Japanese higher education system as German universities were regarded as one of the most innovative in all of Europe in addition to nineteenth century Germany being close to Japan in terms of its goals for industrialization. Furthermore, the Meiji government greatly admired the nineteenth century German government bureaucracy, largely dominated by law school graduates, and sought to incorporate the German prototype into the uniquely developed Japanese model. With inspired American, British, and French models on top of a predominantly German prototype incorporated into its higher educational system propelled Japan's development as a major world power during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

At the higher education level, Japan sought to incorporate a number of higher education ideas to suit its national needs. Many books, manuscripts, and documents from the West were translated and foreign professors were common during the Meiji era to disseminate Western knowledge in the arts and sciences as well as Western pedagogical teaching methods. For a modern university model, Japan incorporated many Prussian elements found in that of Germany as the German Empire at the time was similar to Japan in terms of goals for colonial expansion and national development. The German model continued to inspire Japanese higher education until the end of World War I. During the American occupation of World War II, Japan incorporated higher education ideas developed in the United States to modernize its higher education for the contemporary era. The contemporary Japanese higher education system boasts elements incorporated from the United States on top of its German origins.