Already at the turn of the 1900s, virtually all adult literacy was in Japan, and Japan has long been considered the world’s most educated population. Higher education has traditionally high status, and even in modern Japan, a degree from one of the highest-ranked universities is an entry ticket to the most sought after and fastest careers. During the post-war period, education up to high school has come to be characterized by extremely tough competition. Most parents are prepared to prioritize a long and expensive education for their children over almost everything else in the household budget. About half of the high school students continue to university and college studies.
Most children now attend preschool at the age of 3-5. Preschools are often private and they have gradually become increasingly school-like in their demands for achievement. However, a curriculum from 2008 states that learning in preschool should be based on play.
The compulsory, free schooling is nine years old and starts at the age of six. It includes a six-year primary school and a three-year lower secondary school (equivalent to Swedish high school). Almost all primary schools are municipal, while private schools are more common at higher levels. The school year starts in April and consists of three semesters. Since 2002, five-day week has been completed.
For the first six years the children are trained to work together and work as a group. On the schedule are the internationally used subjects but also training in traditional Japanese art types such as calligraphy and haiku poetry. All children should also be able to play two instruments. In primary school, students will learn just over half of the approximately 2,000 characters needed in everyday life. In year four, the student learns the Western alphabet. In the lower secondary school, school work is gradually becoming more and more focused on ensuring that the individual student gets good results on the degree that gives entry to the high school. Teaching in English started earlier in the seventh school year but starts year five from 2012.
It is very important to get high marks on the entrance exam. It is required to enter a high-ranking high school with stiff competition for the places. However, large extra efforts are required. The students participate in courses in the school in their spare time and usually they also attend expensive courses in private preparation schools (juku) where they are trained for the degree. Weak pupils cannot count on extra support in school. Their parents, if they can afford it, must pay for extra evening lessons. Thus, there is a thorough sorting of the young people already at the age of 12-15.
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The vast majority of Japanese youth (96% in 2006) continue to study in high school. Most colleges are three-year-olds, with college preparatory or more professional study programs, but there are also five-year technical colleges. Furthermore, there are four-year evening gymnasiums and also distance education for young people who have already started working during the day and for adults who want to study further. High school studies are subject to fees, and at that level the pressure is further increasing on students to pass the entrance exam to a high-ranking university.
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In 2010, Japan had 95 national and 570 private universities, plus several hundred colleges (junior colleges) with 2-3 years of education. In addition, there were several thousand special vocational colleges. In particular, junior colleges provide education that is traditionally intended for women (such as health care and home economics). In 2007, the vast majority of college students were women, but only 40% of the university students. However, the traditional gender roles are changing rapidly, and in 2011, the proportion of women at universities was almost the same as the proportion of men. At the elite university, men still constitute a large majority.
Academic studies mean a quiet time without tough competition. Time studies in the late 1990s showed that on average, students spent less than two hours daily on studies. Internationally, Japanese academic teaching does not have the same high reputation as lower education, while natural science research has been internationally prominent. Since 1980, Japanese researchers have been awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry on six occasions and in physics and medicine on each occasion. On a global ranking of universities in 2011, the University of Tokyo (Todai) came in 20th place and the University of Kyoto in 27th place.
The reduction in population in Japan means fewer and fewer young people. It has become difficult for many colleges and small universities to get enough students and thus sufficient income. Government grants have also declined. Several colleges have gone bankrupt and even small universities on the outskirts of the country have been forced to close down the business. At the same time, more forms of entrance exam have been developed, especially at the elite university competing for the best students. The universities also strive to get more foreign students, but not even at the elite university Todai was the proportion higher than 7% in 2010.
Traditionally, Japanese school students have shown very good results in international comparisons, especially in science subjects and mathematics. At the same time, they have been less good when it comes to investigative tasks that require independent thinking and final ability. More and more, employers are also complaining about young people’s lack of ability to speak and understand spoken English. To counteract these weaknesses, a new school law was adopted at the end of the 1990s with new curricula and timetables for the compulsory school. The course content was sharpened and the number of hours was increased, especially in Japanese and mathematics.
Tokyo, formerly Edo, Japan’s capital, located in central Honshu; 9.36 million including in Tokyo city, 13.61 million in Tokyo Prefecture (2016); moreover, 9.15 million lives. in neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture, which includes the cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki, as well as 6.2 million. in the neighboring prefecture of Chiba). Tokyo is one of the world’s largest cities and Japan’s population and economic center. 25% of the country’s population lives in the Greater Tokyo area and 31% of GDP comes from this. The city is located on the Gulf of Tokyo on flat river plains around the Tone and Kinu-gawa rivers. The plains are on all sides surrounded by mountains and are in several places formed by volcanic ash from e.g. Fujiyama, which is only 100 km away.
The climate is characterized by the mountains to the west. In winter, they decrease for the NV monsoon, so winters are relatively mild and dry, while summers are hot and humid due to the humid east winds from the Pacific Ocean. The average temperature is 25 °C in summer and 2 °C in winter.
The Tokyo area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, but much of the urban development has occurred late, especially after Tokyo became the imperial capital in 1868. The oldest neighborhoods lie out to the bay and are the center of the current city. From here, Tokyo has evolved into poor, and growth has meant that surrounding cities have been engulfed by urban growth. These old cities now form independent urban centers in the metropolis. Close to the old city center lies the imperial palace, surrounded by walls and gardens, east of the palace are most ministries, and west of Nagatacho with the Parliament and the Supreme Court. The buildings in the central parts consist of both traditional Japanese wooden houses from the 19th century, stone and brick houses from approximately 1900 and newer skyscrapers and high-rise buildings. Tokyo does not have one central shopping district, but several; best known is the fashionable Ginza. Around the inner city are a number of urban centers with banking, industrial and shopping districts as well as residential. The most important centers are those located where the Yamanote railway line around Tokyo intersects highways and train lines from the city center. Shibuya, Ikebukuro and Shinjuku; the latter is also the most famous entertainment district.
Tokyo is the center of the Keihin industrial zone, which is economically the country’s most important. Keihin extends all the way around Tokyo Bay and also includes the cities of Kawasaki and Yokohama. The shortage of land has led to some industries lying on reclaimed land. Keihin encompasses all types of industry. The service-intensive and labor-intensive industry is centered, while the heavy industry is mainly located along the bay, and the new high-tech industry is located in the outer areas. In addition, Tokyo’s role as one of the world’s financial centers with a large stock exchange and a myriad of banks, insurance and finance companies.
The large concentration of people and production causes many problems. The demand for land means that house prices and rents are at a very high level, and the residents are forced to either live small or move out of the central parts of the city. The majority of the buildings here are from the 1950’s and 1960’s and are inhabited by single elderly people who lack the means to maintain the houses. The pollution is great, but has come under scrutiny by targeted efforts by the government. The infrastructure is very well developed with, among other things, a large subway system and a dense network of railways, but the many daily commuters are burdening the systems. The metro network of the Metropolitan Region (Tokyo Metropolitan Region), including the subway’s 12 lines, comprises approximately 2300 km and are among the largest in the world. In 1997, a bridge-tunnel connection was opened across the Gulf of Tokyo; The 9583 m tunnel section is the world’s longest road tunnel under the sea. Since the 1960’s, the government has sought to limit continued urban growth. by supporting developments in other parts of the country and through financial incentives make it attractive for the industry to move out of Tokyo. Since 1993, the population has fallen slightly.
Tokyo is the hub of national and international traffic. All major railway lines start from the three main train stations, Tokyo (with the high-speed Shinkansen), Shinjuku and Ueno. There is also a motorway connection to the different parts of the country. Domestic air traffic leaves from Haneda south of the city center, while foreign routes are served by Narita 65 km from the city.