This paper considers post-1990s educational reform in Japan from the perspective of the confrontation between various powers. Since the rise to prominence of neo-liberalist groups in the 1980s, the major confrontation over such educational reform has pitted conservatives defending the arrangement based on the so-called "1955 system" against conservatives pushing for neoliberal reforms. In this paper, we divide the period between 1990 and August 2009 into four phases based on two perspectives: who in government set the agenda for educational reform (the origin of reform plans), and whether or not the Ministry of Education (MET), and later the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) had control over determining the course of policy-making. (1) 1990s, first half: The Ministry of Education decides on a reform agenda and moves ahead with relatively mild deregulation. (2) 1990s, second half: An advisory panel cutting across government offices and ministries initiates a proposal, and the Ministry of Education drafts a concrete policy proposal. (3) 2001-2006: The Cabinet Office establishes a radical reform agenda and the Ministry of Education becomes a "force of opposition." (4) 2006-2009: The leadership role of the Cabinet Office weakens, and the Ministry of Education proceeds with previously established policy. The change in political administration brought on by the August 2009 general elections has the potential to introduce a significant shift in two different ways. Firstly, there is the possibility that education policy-making may undergo a dramatic transformation as a result of yet another shift in Cabinet Office leadership. Secondly, the path of "big government" based on fiscal stimulus could trigger a shift in the course of reform. Considering these two possibilities, future research must make note of the following requirements: (1) to consider the desirability of policy-making procedures separately from the desirability of the actual contents of political measures; and (2) to consider elements seeking individual interests separately from those attempting to secure universal interests.
Since the 1990s accountability and performativity have emerged as the key concepts of educational reform in global states, especially in the US, the UK, and Japan. According to Stephen Ball, performativity is a new mode of state regulation which marks the structural transformation from the old type welfare state to the post-welfare state regime. So in this paper I focus on the theoretical and philosophical implications of performativity. Stephen Ball points out two aspects of performativity. First, performativity makes it possible to govern in an advanced liberal way and expands opportunities for success. Second, performativity portends inner conflicts and anxieties of identity. These conflicts and anxieties make each individual or organization take ever greater care in the construction and maintenance of fabrications. Ball finds this second aspect a "cynical compliance" or using Judith Butler's words, an "enacted fantasy." We can call this a cynicism of performativity. But even if there could be such cynicism in this performativity, it could not necessarily be reduced to a "cynical compliance." Peformativity, as Butler says, can also be constructed toward plural identities. So it is possible to say that performativity is a kind of stake where multiple forces conflict to divert it for their own interests. In this sense performativity is a site of diversion politics. However another problem remains: how is it possible for identities constructed by performativity to be reproduced without being immobilized and without excluding alien others? It is a problem which cannot be resolved within the category of performativity. It is at this point that another category should be introduced to overcome the categorical limits of performativity. In this context Judith Butler focused on the divine violence which Walter Benjamin posits against the established legal system. Among others Butler, relying on the interpretation of Benjamin proposed by Werner Hamacher, captures the features of this divine violence as an action against the state which is a kind of omission, a failure to perpetuate the law of the state. Hamacher calls this omission, an interpretation of divine violence, the afformative. The afformative, or divine violence is a condition for any performativity and, at the same time, a condition which suspends its fulfillment. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri call this divine violence "constituent power," in which Hannah Arendt found a potentiality for "the establishment of an entirely new system of power." The main question of educational reform for us is not only how to limit power to education but also how to establish the power of education, not only how to limit politics intervening in education but also how to found a new politics of education. So it is in the affortmative, which we have examined in this paper, that we can find the condition of this new politics of education.
It is said that the Japanese government has paid less for public education than other OECD countries. Being in a financial crisis, central and local governments in Japan have been struggling through the reconstruction of public finance based mainly on New Public Management (hereafter NPM). From that point of view, recent education reform is no longer a plan or project which is dominated by the Ministry of Education and a community of educational professionals. It is possible for us to see some features of NPM as a tool of public sector management reform in many education reform plans and programs, especially "free to manage" strategies. In business management theory, it is meaningful that principals should give agents discretion to use resources when they want to gain more output from those agents. Perhaps there is some confusion about how principals control agent's activity and performance. It is not difficult to get the education community to accept two approaches of NPM, i.e., devolution to public officials and control them by accomplishment and outcome. Because school teachers are one type of street-level bureaucrats, they need to have discretion in order to meet the uncontrollable demands from their clients. Some researchers point out that it is useful to acquire frontline staffs' knowledge and skills in order to make policies successful. But, it is also important to consider how to control their output. We need various types of data and information to measure and evaluate the public sector employees' productivity, including financial accounting data and information related to the cost of providing public services. Though complete NPM model public sector reform is followed by public sector accounting reform, the accrual-based accounting system which is adopted in some countries which pursue NPM reform is just starting and still not common in the Japanese public sector. Rules and discipline of fiscal administration are applied to all kinds of government activity without exceptions for education in both central and local governments. Many education reform plans are introduced and put into practice one after another, but we do not have any tools and information to identify the most effective and efficient ones among them. Under such conditions, we should be careful to use the word "accountability" only in the sense of responsibility. Once the public accounting system which can provide us information on the cost of public education precisely and openly is set, not only can we analyze each education reform policy's effectiveness or efficiency but also compare one local education agency's performance to another. As far as school site level performance matters are concerned, it might be possible to discuss the significance of establishing an education finance accounting system like those used in local school districts in the United States.
"Gakushi-ryoku" is a common learning outcome, that every student is expected to achieve through the bachelor's degree program in Japanese Universities across all majors in the future (the 21st century). It also can be called being "cultured" (a well-educated outcome, "Kyouyou") for the 21^<st> century. To enhance further discussion about the learning outcomes or culture, the following questions should be considered: How can "a well-educated person" and culture "in the 21st century" be defined? How should universities educate them? Are the expected characteristics or abilities of an educated person and the purpose of higher education in the 21st century different from those of the past? This paper analyzes the common nature of "a well-educated person," the difference between its expected character in the 21st century and in the 20th century, and the under-standings of the direction of the 21st century. It also analyzes the relationship between the needs of employers and liberal education at university and suggests new educational practices in Japanese liberal education with reference to the existing and preceding educational practices. The key concept that will influence university education in the 21st century is the pressure of globalization. In the US and Japan, higher education has started to challenge these pressures. The definition of liberal education has been drastically changed by the AAC & U (Association of American College and Universities) in the 21st century. The new definition states that liberal education is not only for the elite or through liberal arts fields but "a necessity for all students and essential for success in a global economy and for informed citizenship," and will be offered "through studies across the entire educational continuum: school through college" of "all fields of study." The interpretation by the Japanese Central Council for Education about the pressure of globalization is rather narrow or ambiguous, compared with the comprehensive interpretation by the AAC & U and the OECD DeSeCo project. Further discussion is needed about the issues in Japan regarding education for a well-educated person in the 21st century. Employers in the US and Japan now realize the importance of the abilities of critical thinking and problem finding/solving, and also the ability to tie those skills to creativity and action. Abilities such as critical thinking and problem finding/solving have been and are an important part of liberal education. It means that there is a match between industry needs and liberal education. The 21st century's liberal education which focuses on critical thinking from the broader aspects is meaningful and significant from the context of an individual's career and its responsibility as a global citizen. Within university educational practices, each university and every faculty should focus more on the education of those abilities mentioned above, using the university's property i.e., academic knowledge, academic methods of thinking, academic aspects in every discipline, and the faculties of the professionals for dealing with those academic matters. Trial and error will be useful in the following fields: the organized curriculum, the capstone project or thesis, extracurricular self-motivated experiences, and more autonomous learning or active thinking in both small seminar-style and larger lecture classes.