Critical Analysis of English Education Policies in Japan Focusing on Two Discourses: Developing Human Resources and Nurturing Japanese Identity

Hiroshi Miyashita


A growing body of research reports negative results, such as widening economic disparity, due to English education
reform influenced by neoliberalism. Japan is no exception. Linguistic instrumentalism is intensifying in Tokyo,
which is scheduled to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. This article critically analyzes policy
documents issued by the largest business lobby in Japan (Keidanren), Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports,
Science and Technology (MEXT), the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), and the Tokyo Metropolitan Board
of Education (TMBOE) within Japan’s social and political context. All of the documentary data are official-public
and open-archival. The study reveals that two discourses, developing human resources and nurturing Japanese
identity, are repeated throughout the policy documents. While MEXT, TMG, and TMBOE stipulate their intention to
accelerate Japan’s internationalization, their policy documents have potential to lead students in an opposing
direction with an emphasis on fierce competition and pluralist multiculturalism, which dichotomizes the self and
others by simplifying differences. In the discussion section I suggest implementing pedagogical practice based on
critical multiculturalism to multiply the effect of these top-down measures. Ultimately, EFL teachers could form a
bottom-up powerbase by critically analyzing the official policies and by implementing practice that fits to the
particular setting.

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World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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