Japanese Education System

Japan is admired by the whole world not only because of its miraculous economic development, but also because of the Japanese personality: honesty, humility, politeness, teamwork spirit, sense of community, respect for other people, extremely disciplined, cautious but very creative and perfection in work, or the way the Japanese educate children about morality.

Briefing about Japan:

Japan is admired by the whole world not only because of its miraculous economic development, but also because of the Japanese personality: honesty, humility, politeness, teamwork spirit, sense of community, respect for other people, extremely disciplined, cautious but very creative and perfection in work, or the way the Japanese educate children about morality.

In addition, Japan is a nation with the highest life expectancy in the world thanks to eating in moderate diet. Japanese children receive moral education not only from family and school but also by society. Not only Civic Education subject, other subjects taught at school also delivery moral education, and students learn and practice via daily activities, not just in books.

Students from Kindergarten, right in their daily activities, have been trained in ethical practices such as codes of conduct, greetings, thanking parents, teachers, elders and friends. Every morning, children line up in class, respectfully greeting their teachers before starting the day. The lunchtime is also a learning sesson where children are taught independence, self-care, serve foods to friends and express gratitude. At the end of the day, children greet teachers and friends, reflect on themselves and pick up trash around them before leaving.

In the process of learning and playing, children are guided and reminded to use the words “thank you” and “sorry” in appropriate situations.

Parenting principles of Japanese parents:

  • Being smart and having good academic results is a good thing, but it is more important to have a good personality;
  • Care about the surrounding environment;
  • Never let children develop bad habits;
  • Respect children, being honest, no lying in front of children;
  • Nutritious and moderate diet for children;
  • Meals taken with the tables and chairs.

In recent years, Japanese people are taking interests in early education for children and Shichida’s 0-6 years old education method is very polular and widely used. It is an educational method that nourishes the soul, nurtures the love for everyone, nurtures dream and will, takes “education”, “virtue”, “exercise” and “practice” as the basis towards the education of the whole personality and development of the right brain.

Shichida believes that the education to develop the right brain is not only focusing on children’s academic achievement, but a wonderful thing is that all children’s souls are developed in a gentle and harmonic way. Children will express diverse sensibilities of compassion, imagination and creativity. It fosters love, creates unity of the senses (hearing, sight, touch, etc.) and most importantly, a great cooperation between parents and children.

“Early education and right brain development education will shape the future of the world because one of the goals of the education is to create a better world. This is a natural result of right-brain development education, a learning method based on love and cooperation. In contrast, left-brain development education is about creating confrontation and competition” said Shichida.

Recently, Japanese schools also teach students to: before speaking or taking action, you need to think, judge what your partner will think and how they will react? In other words, you must put yourself in the shoes of others before you speak and act so as not to hurt others. Shichida is the originator of a educating method that balances the right brain and the left brain.


Having been to 80 different countries around the world, but after 20 years living in Japan, a Jewish mathematician – Peter Frankl – had to admit that he admired Japan and Japanese education – a modern and excellent education background. It is difficult to talk about a modern, wonderful and famous education in a brief article, but Lucy Crehan – a British teacher and education researcher who has met many teachers and parents – has given new and accurate perspectives on Japanese education, which according to her is “Team work, moral lessons and goal-oriented action are the ultimate values of the cherry blossom country’s education”.

  1. Teamwork spirit

From elementary school, students study and work in groups most of the time. What makes people feel surprised is the behavior of elementary school students in Japan, for example: “Students are allowed to stand up, freely walk around the classroom even while class is in progress and can almost do everything, except dangerous things”. These expressions are usually considered “bad” and completely contrary to previous thoughts and stereotypes.

However, those surprises are all part of the Japanese government’s series of deliberate policies applied to elementary school students. Instead of spending the first years of elementary school to train students to follow exactly teacher’s instructions, the Japanese believe that this is the best time for children to figure out what is right for them and what they love to do.

Besides, even at the primary level, directing children to group activities is always a priority. Most of the activities of primary school students are organized in small groups so learning seems to become a social activity. When a student moves his or her chair or does not participate in activities, teacher will gently remind: “Yellow team is not ready yet!”. These words will get other students on the team care for their friends and help them become more active for the common good of the group.

From elementary school, students have to participate in extracurricular clubs to learn how to work in groups, thereby training children’s collective spirit, promoting children’s development, self-discovery and life exploration. These activities also help children create close relationships with friends and teachers, practice communication skills, behavior, etc.

During the club’s activity, many situations or problems will arise for children to practice handling through which teachers will grasp children’s personality to promptly encourage or correct them. This type of education makes children aware that they are part of the group and take pride in their achievements as a group. These feelings and beliefs are so important in Japanese society that they follow throughout his or her life.

  1. Moral education:

Apart from the specalized course, human values are taught by teachers through ethics lessons. This content is usually held once a week and throughout students’ life with the common goal: “Developing a generation of Japanese people who will never forget to show respect for everyone around them, always carry that awareness at home, at school or anywhere in the society to which he is a member; strive for creativity and for a rich culture and for the development of a democratic nation; voluntarily contribute to a peaceful society”.

Such lessons, which depend mainly on the teacher, do not have a specific standard, but the objectives of the lessons are completely set by the Ministry of Education. Most of the time, students will be told about a story or a certain situation, and then they will discuss in groups and finally share their thoughts and ideas about what they would do and why, in each situation, in front of the whole class.

Children receive moral education not only from family and school but also by society. All subjects deliver moral education values, not just the Civic Education subject only. Moral training for children will take place right in daily activities, not just in books. Students from kindergarten have been trained to practice ethics right in daily activities such as codes of conduct, such as greetings, thanking parents, teachers, elders and friends. During the process of learning and playing, children are guided and trained to use thank you and sorry sentences in appropriate situations. Every morning, children line up in class, respectfully greet the teacher before starting the new day.

The lunchtime is also a learning session where children are taught independence, self-care, serve foods to friends and express gratitude: Children are assigned to serve foods to friends, dressed in uniform and serve like a real waiter: teacher will scoop the foods into the bowl, pour the milk into the glass, and the children will bring it to the table for their friends. Then, the children serving the day will stand in front of the class say “Enjoy your meal” and the rest of the class will say “Thank you” out loud. Before eating, the children say “Itadakimasu” (I am grateful for the food), and after eating, they say “Gochisosamadeshita” (Thank you for the meal), both of which are also taught from kindergarten. They bring their own trays to the cleaning area, then get changed and make their own sheets for the nap, and fold their own pillows and mattresses after waking up.

It can be said that, right from kindergarten, children have learned the first important lessons about polite behavior (thank you and sorry), responsibility for work (wearing a uniform themselves), sharing responsibility in the group (taking turns in serving food), independence (self-service) and most importantly, they learn diligence, hard work and respect for the truth. At the end of the day, they greet teachers and friends, reflect on themselves and pick up trash in the classroom before leaving. When they are older, children start the education system from grade 1 to grade 9, they will learn and practice moral lessons with a program divided into 4 groups from easy to difficult.

Group 1 is concerned with the self, group 2 is related to others, group 3 is related to the collective, society and group 4 is concerned with the natural world and what is beautiful. Students learn all four of these groups, but at different ages they will learn and practice with different levels.

For example:

  1. Group 1 – Concerned with the self:

Lower level students learn and practice about health and safety; value things and money; being neat and tidy; life with the right rules; performance of obligations; judge good and evil; integrity; personality development and creative attitude; awareness of the importance of civilized behaviour. Middle level students learn and practice self-control; moderation life; deep thoughts; apologize and repent; resolute, indomitable; brave, honest and pure. The upper level students learned about moderation; how to react to criticism, respect for the truth; goal setting; freedom; honest; search for truth; creation; self appraisal.

High school students learn and practice about habits and desired life; health; moderate; harmonious life; hope and courage; autonomy, self-responsibility; ideal performance; self-advocacy and personality development.

  1. Group 2 – Related to others

Lower level students learn and practice greetings; use words; movements; friendly feelings towards younger children and the elderly; friendship; gratefulness. Middle level students learn and practice about etiquette; attention; mutual understanding, trust and help; respect and gratitude.

Upper level students learn and practice about male-female cooperation; being humble; gratitude and return. High school students learn and practice rituals; humanity; respect friendship; understanding the opposite sex; respect for personality; learning.

  1. Group 3 – related to the collective

Lower level classes learn and practice about following the law; public properties protection; honor parents; love family; love school; love the home country. The middle level classes learn and practice about merit; hard work; love family; love school; love the motherland; love the country; international understanding. Upper level classes are taught and practice the collective activities and performing obligations; fairness; social service; love family; love school; love the motherland; love the country; international friendship.

High school students learn and practice about improving collective life; compliance with laws; social links; eliminate bias and discrimination; development of social and public welfare; love family; love school; love the motherland; love the country; international contribution.

  1. Group 4 – Concerned with the natural world and what is beautiful

Lower level classes learn and practice about loving and protecting animals and plants; respect life; devotion. Middle classes learn and practice about being touched by nature; feel touched for the beautiful things.

Upper level classes and high school students are taught and practice on protecting the natural environment; respect for one’s own life and that of others; emotional heart; reverence.

Japanese schools are not ambitious to teach student a lot of knowledge, but only chooses the most practical basics so that children have a solid foundation to develop, rather than teaching them unrealistic things.

The results of this comprehensive educational approach have been demonstrated by the consciousness of the whole Japanese community, which is also institutionalized. Only in Japan can we find the “Action manual for the entire people”, including more than 200 articles, clearly stating what to do, what is forbidden to do, if violated peole will be severely fined.

For example: “Seeing the faucet is running unoccupied, close the faucet immediately; seeing a fan spinning or the light on but no one using, turn off the power immediately.”

Moral education in Japan is highly effective because it has involved family, school and society. For example, the topic “Protecting the surrounding environment” is very detailed and fully practiced by parents and children at home.

At school, students from elementary school to high school have to clean the classrooms and public places in the school ground every day.

In the public places, street or super markets, it is always clean and beautiful without any trashes, there are many trash cans close to each other, people sort their own garbage before putting it in the bins. Being well educated from an early age, every Japanese person has a very good moral behavior and habit (Refer to some of the content discussed in groups and in class for Japanese students in Moral Education below).

  1. Những hành động hướng mục tiêu

Most schools in Japan have annual Sport Day or festivals with the goal of “building solidarity, encouraging individuals to give their best effort, dedication and perseverance”. In addition, field trips are also regularly organized to “expand students’ understanding of nature and the world around them in an interesting and memorable way, simultaneously train students to have appropriate behaviors at public places”.

Starting in High School, schools organize a variety of sports, music, and other interest clubs. Japanese students value extracurricular activities as much as formal classes. It is these group activities that will help students understand the concentration, self-effort, develop the ability to cooperate and work in groups, as well as how to resolve conflicts in the group.

Weekly and daily activities are also organized with a goal and students are engaged in discussions. In addition, there is a culture of checking if the goal is achieved after each activity is over. At the end of the activity, the groups will gather and shout slogans such as: “Do we cooperate well?”, “Are we making the most of our time?”, etc. Children sow seeds in school garden using emotional words such as “let’s grow up”, “let’s bloom beautifully”.

Besides, the trend of educational linkage between different subjects also appeared, such as linking with Life subject, Integrated study time with field trip in Social subject, writing thank you letter after the Science lesson held outside of school. In conducting peace education, human rights education, environmental education, dental and health week, school lunch week, traffic safety week, etc. can also help students learn morals. Evaluating an educational method is not easy. However, the whole world recognized that Japanese education has trained a generation of people who are hardworking, dedicated to work, cooperate in labor, in research and consciously discipline is very high.

– Some of the questions that teachers ask students to discuss in the Moral Education lessons:

  • Have you ever stolen anything and lied? Give an example of a lie that made you shameful. If you travel abroad, what will you do to make us Japanese be respected? What does benevolence mean? Why do we help the elderly, children, women, the disabled? Why help countries that are poorer than us?
  • In production, if we are disciplined, we will reduce the damage caused by fire and explosion because of our carelessness. Have you ever carelessly caused damage for yourself and your family?
  • Why do we have to wait in line and follow the social order? What do you think about yelling and shouting at each other? Is there an alternative to yelling at each other?
  • Why should we speak softly in public? Why should we be observant to blend in with the crowd?
  • Why should we not eat wild animals? Why only consume cattles raised on farms for foods.
  • Currently, the custom of eating dogs, cats, birds, and centipedes of the Chinese and Asian countries is also influenced by the practice of eating wild animals. What do you think about this statement and are you ready to give up this practice?
  • What do you think about the Japanese thinking that whale meat is nutritious? (many countries around the world has criticized this because there are a number of old Japanese people who still maintain the concept of eating whales despite being criticized by young people).
  • Why should we not blame others for our failures? At the end of the day, do you reflect on what useful things you have done for society, learned something useful for yourself before going to sleep? Why do we have to save money, buy only what we need, and prioritize using Japanese-made products?
  • Why do we have to exercise? how many minutes a day do you spend on exercising or doing sports?
  • Why should we read books? Do you have the habit of reading books anytime and anywhere? If not, why?
  • Why were you born? What will you do to contribute to society during your time living s on this Earth?
  • Why do you not work when your body and brain are completely healthy? Do you eat 3 meals a day? If yes, why eat but not work?
  • Do you dare to refuse an offer you consider bad? How being late affects others? Why are you never late in matters related to your personal interests but often late in group activities?
  • What do you think about human nobility? An example of someone around you that you consider noble. Have you ever been a petty person? How to get rid of this petty attitude?
  • What is greed and selfishness, can you give an example of someone around you who you consider greedy and selfish?
  • Small-mindedness and narrow-mindedness. Have you ever been petty, narrow-minded towards others? How will you change?
  • People need to be brave and responsible, dare to do things. Have you ever been cowardly not taking responsibility for your actions? Why were you like that?
  • Generosity and forgiveness are also essential. Why civilized people should forgive others’ mistakes for the first time. If they do it again, should they be forgiven? Why should you end your relationship with someone who repeats the same mistake for the 3rd time?
  • How does conservative attitude limit people’s development? Why are we conservative? What does personal ego mean? Do you dare to sacrifice your personal ego for a better community?
  • Creativity and curiosity. Why do we Asian always follow Westerners in technology? What do you do to be creative? Have you ever created something?
  • Open-minded and correct mistakes. Why do we get annoyed when others criticize or point out our mistakes? Have you been like that? How will you change it?
  • Willing to sacrifice for others. Why are we willing to sacrifice for others? What kind of person is worth our sacrifice?
  • Habit of criticism and complaint of peole who never do work properly. Have you ever looked at an event from the negative side, blamed someone for it and harshly condemned it, but didn’t realize you were partly responsible for it?
  • Envy and consequences. Do you recognize other people are better and more beautiful than you? Do you know why other people are more successful than you? What would you do to be like them instead of being jealous?
  • What is the true value of a person? Do you judge a person by what they have? Money, fame, degree, position, morality, intelligence, humanity?
  • Social behavior. List behaviors we are not allowed to do in public?
  • What is high self-esteem? Why do Asians have high self-esteem? How will self-esteem lead to lying?
  • The failure of a group, as a member, to whom do you blame the responsibility or do you think you have your own responsibility in it as well? Why is there a saying “the poverty of a nation is the fault of every citizen?”. How will you improve yourself to contribute to the success of the team?

Currently, many schools and offices in Asian countries also bring up these questions to their students and staff to discuss (especially in Korea, Singapore, Thailand; Taiwan and Hong Kong territories. Public, and more recently India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, etc.).


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