The Newsletter 56 Spring 2011

Supplementary education in Japan

Julian Dierkes

For the past five years or so, I have answered questions about my research interests in Japan very simply: “juku” ( ). Generally, this is met with a surprised look, so that I specify further: “academic juku” ( ), but that only seems to resolve this puzzle to a small extent.

It seems st range to many Japanese interlocutors that any scholar would concern himself with supplementary education (juku being the catch-all term for the various forms of schools within the supplementary education industry that parallel conventional primary and secondary schools), even though virtually all of these same interlocutors would concede that their children – if they have any – are attending or have attended juku. The existence of juku is taken for granted to an extent in Japan that no aspects of this industry are questioned by scholars, and juku and supplementary education more broadly are still marred by the whiff of the slightly illegitimate, along the lines of “It’s too bad juku exist, but it can’t be helped.”

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