The Japanese education system depends heavily on private funding and, while secondary schools are of a good standard, tertiary education is losing ground at an international level. There is a close correlation between family income and academic results, as wealthier families can afford the fees of “cram schools”, or juku, offering after-school classes to improve students’ knowledge. Better test scores mean better chances of passing university and college entrance exams. Having a tertiary education diploma gives access to regular work and thus a more stable and higher income. These factors increase disparity in education, making overseas studies more attractive in recent years, especially with government initiatives to internationalise Japan’s baccalaureate qualification and adapt its term dates. For Japan to maintain the competitiveness of its workers in terms of qualifications, the system must be internationalised. Japan is now one of the top host countries for foreign students but still has a low number of outbound students, most of whom travel abroad to learn English.


Online Education

The online education sector in Japan is a promising market due to both the Japanese tendency to embrace technology and the increasing interest in international engagement. Organisations engaged in distance learning are increasingly adapting to target an online audience. Institutions are also taking advantage of the possibilities provided by existing online learning platforms. Online English learning in particular is in demand due to Japanese companies’ increasing need to have English-speaking employees. The online potential for Japanese language instruction has also been recognised by the government as a means of encouraging more foreign engagement with Japan.



Japan is classed as one of the best educated countries in the world. Recent figures indicate that 46% of the population aged 25 to 64 had completed tertiary education, compared with the OECD average of 31%, ranking it third out of 36 countries. Financial investment in education is a priority for the Japanese Government and average annual expenditure on education services per tertiary student is significantly higher than in other OECD countries. There is also a substantial, market-driven private university sector. However, universities across Japan are increasingly facing challenges caused by the demographic decline in the number of young people. In response to demographic changes and an identified need for engagement in an increasingly globalised world, the government has taken steps to attract foreign students to Japanese institutions. However, this is not without its challenges.