Nationalist Influences on Japanese Education
Zachary L. Troutman
Dr. Chunmei Du
Twentieth Century Japan
Considered by many to be a universal human right, education has long been thought of as the key to developing a country of both free individuals and economic prosperity. This singular notion of the education of a people and the potential benefits had been envisioned by many nations throughout modern history. Perhaps one to have brought this vision to life better than others is Japan. While before the period of Japanese modernity, education remained a privilege that only few could hope to obtain through their hereditary status. However, after the Meiji Restoration in the latter half of the 19th Century, leaders of the movement realized the importance education would play on the development of Japan from a feudal society to a modern powerhouse that would have a presence on a global stage. Meiji leaders sought to reform and develop an educational system, based off Euro-American models, that they hoped would help push Japan into prosperity and allow it to compete against Western nations. Japanese leaders during the Meiji restoration sought to bring Japan to a level of equality with Western counterparts, not only in education, but in other areas of society as well. In a letter from Emperor Meiji to United States President Grant in 1872, the Emperor states his intent of sending Japanese dignitaries to various countries to observe numerous institutions the Japanese thought would be beneficial to them:
The civilization and institutions of Japan are so different from those of other countries that we cannot expect to reach the declared end at once. It is our purpose to select from the various institutions prevailing among enlightened nations such as are best suited to our present conditions, and adapt them in gradual reforms and improvements of our policy and customs so as to be upon equality with...