Japan Best Colleges and Universities

Japan Education Facts


Japan is highly valued education and most children go to preschool before they reach the age of six compulsory elementary school at the age of six. After that, almost all students – over 97 percent – continue to the three-year high school. The education is characterized by fierce competition, grading and intense plugging after the first six school years.

Japan’s school year usually starts in April and ends in March the following year. The academic year is divided into three semesters. Japanese students do well in international comparisons.

Virtually all primary and lower secondary schools are municipal, while private schools account for a few percent of secondary education (grades 7–9). Of the colleges, about a quarter are considered private. In addition to the public schools, where compulsory school tuition and books are free, there is, especially in the big cities, a commercial system of private schools, juku. They offer supplementary private tuition at all levels for a fee. Private university fees are more than twice as high as state universities.

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From high school, about half of the students go on to college or university studies. Longer it was mainly men who went on to higher studies, but today the gender difference has been evened out.

High quality education and research, not least in technology, economics and medicine, is seen as a reason for the country’s rapid progress. Larger companies usually recruit their employees directly from the higher education institutions even before they have received a severance rating.

Some universities, such as the University of Tokyo, have higher prestige than others and entrance exams to the major universities are extremely tough. A place at a prestigious university is seen as a must for a successful career. Therefore, through private lessons in leisure time, many young people hope to increase the chance of entering the desired education. The system is debated. Critics believe that school early forces students, parents and teachers to grade rather than stimulate young people to personal development and critical thinking. But once the students have entered university, the study experience usually becomes much calmer than in high school.

The number of foreign students in Japan is steadily increasing but is still low in comparison with countries such as the USA and France. Of the Japanese studying abroad, many are applying to the United States.

The high status of qualified education granted has also resonated in science; several Japanese scientists have been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics, chemistry and medicine.

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Proportion of children starting primary school

98.2 percent (2016)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

16 (2016)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

9.1 percent (2016)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

9.1 percent (2016)



Excess licenses are canceled for large parts of the country

May 14

Reduced spread of infection means that the government decides to lift the state of emergency in most of the country’s regions. But it will remain for the time being in the major cities of Tokyo and Osaka. An emergency permit was introduced in early April as a way to limit the spread of the corona virus, but the restrictions imposed are less far-reaching than in many other affected countries. To date, 687 people have died of the covid-19 disease caused by the virus.


Abe plans virus support for all residents

April 17

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announces that the government wants to give citizens of the country 100,000 yen (about SEK 9,000) in support to counteract the negative effects of the corona crisis in the country. The economy was entering a recession already before the corona virus spread in the country and now both tourism and industry and trade have been hit hard. Recently, the state of emergency in seven of the country’s regions was extended to the entire country.

An emergency permit is introduced

April 7

The government announces state of emergency after the country has recently seen an increase in the number of covid-19 cases. The state of emergency, which is scheduled to last for a month, means that governors in seven regions where the coronavirus has become attached can ask people to stay indoors and ensure that business is closed. Tokyo is one of the affected regions. Although Japan has so far had relatively few reported infections by the new corona virus, about 5,000 cases and some 80 who have died from the disease, warnings are raised that the health care system is already having difficulty managing the situation. The government also plans to implement a comprehensive package of measures to stimulate and support the economy. The measures, which are mainly intended to help companies and prevent people from losing their jobs, correspond to about one thousand billion US dollars.


Japan Olympics are postponed

24th of March

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announces that the Olympics that would have been held at the end of July in Tokyo will be postponed until next year, but by summer 2021. An agreement has been reached with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan. The reason for the postponement of the Olympics is the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.


Schools are closed because of the corona virus

February 27th

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urges the country’s schools to stay closed until the annual spring break at the end of March. The purpose is to try to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus covid-19, which first hit the province of Hubei in China in late 2019 and which has since spread to several countries. About 200 Japanese are estimated to have been infected by the virus. An American cruise ship, Diamond Princess, was quarantined for two weeks in February after passengers became infected with the virus. According to experts, several people on board were affected by the disease, just over 700 were infected, of which five have died. By the beginning of March, almost all passengers had been allowed to leave the ship. Some of those who have had negative tests and were allowed to leave the ship have subsequently fallen ill. The government has been criticized for its way of dealing with the spread of infection.

Japan Best Colleges and Universities