'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
This blog is a source for intellectual exploration. It includes a list of alternative resources and a source of free books. The placement of an article does not imply that I agree with it, merely that I found it thought-provoking. There are also poems and book reviews. Texts written by me are labelled. Readers are free to re-post anything they like.
Monday, September 7, 2015
The Abe administration is directing the abolition of humanities and social sciences at National Universities in Japan
The Abe administration is directing the abolition of
humanities and social sciences at National Universities in Japan.
Although the new Japanese secrecy laws, encouragement of
international arms sales, promotion of international roles for Japanese
military, the ianfu problems, and history issues have been getting most of the
attention from the international press, equally important moves against aspects
of Japanese universities have been little noted.
Earlier this year Abe issued a
directive that stripped faculty and faculty committees of any decision making
powers. By this directive the Presidents of all universities, both public and
private, have been given absolute decision making powers with any faculty input
being strictly advisory.
This was followed on June 8th of 2015 by the minister
of education appointed by Abe directing the national university to abolish
their undergraduate departments and graduate school programs in the humanities
and the social sciences. (See note 1 below). Universities will be
reviewed and those that do not comply have been threatened with unspecified cuts
to their budgets and other punitive measures.
On August 25th the Yomiuri
Shinbun published the results of their own survey of Japanese national
universities in this regard (see their article in note 2 below). Of the 60
national universities that have humanities and social science programs, 26
responded that they will abolish their programs commencing with not taking any
new students in them in the coming year as part of a gradual phase out of
Only 6 universities (including Tokyo Daigaku and Kyoto Daigaku)
have openly refused to abolish their programs, while the others are still
considering the situation. Art history, will of course, be one of the
disciplines being abolished by the universities adopting the government
These changes are a part of the Abe administrations efforts
to "improve" the state of Japanese education and make it more
internationally competitive. These Orwellian measures are chillingly parallel
to the relations of the State to the University in the 1930s. Given the massive
changes that are being attempted it is almost quibbling to complain about the
impact on art history yet this will affect all of us in the field, including
our Japanese colleagues. It behooves us as individuals and perhaps in terms of
organizations to formulate a response to these draconian changes. (see the
editorial form Social Science Space, note 3 below)
I would hope that these events might serve as basis for
discussion in JAHF and elsewhere.