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Globalization and History of English Education in Japan

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Globalization and History of English Education in Japan Author Naoki Fujimoto-Adamson Tokyo University of Science, Suwa, Japan Biography: Ms. Naoki Fujimoto-Adamson is currently completing her Ed.D. thesis from LeicesterUniversity, U.K., on team-teaching in Japanese Junior High Schools. She teaches presentation skills at university, TOEIC at a local company and English to elementary school children. Her research interests are in the field of team-teaching on the JET scheme, young learners and th
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  Globalization and History of English Education in Japan Author  Naoki Fujimoto-AdamsonTokyo University of Science, Suwa, Japan Biography:Ms. Naoki Fujimoto-Adamson is currently completing her Ed.D. thesis fromLeicesterUniversity, U.K., on team-teaching in Japanese Junior High Schools. Sheteaches presentation skills at university, TOEIC at a local company and English to elementaryschool children. Her research interests are in the field of team-teaching on the JETscheme, young learners and the history of ELT in Japan. She can be contacted atnaoadamson@hotmail.com Abstract This study investigates the history of English language education in Japan over the past150 years. For this purpose, tabulated representations have been devised which illustratethe educational events in each historical era alongside key national and internationalevents and trends. This is a means of illustrating how local education is a microcosm of the society and the world around it, and the manner in which globalization has an impactupon it. In tracing the inter-relatedness between education, society, politics andeconomics at the local and global levels, various issues are raised which explain whychanges have been made in English language education. Among these issues are the periods of immense popularity of English in Japan, seen by some as linguisticimperialism (Phillipson, 1992), yet in the early part of Japan's modernization as a product of the struggle against imperialism (Brutt-Giffler, 2002, as cited in Park, 2004, p.87). The tables clarify these two polarized stances and give insights into the fluctuating periods of popularity and decline over time in English language education in Japan.Keywords. English language education in Japan, globalization of English languageteaching, Japanese 'macro' events and English education  Introduction This study investigates the history of English education in Japan by describing andcritically analyzing the historical changes over the past 150 years. It addresses the generalhistory of English education in Japan and is organized according to the various eras of theJapanese Imperial Calendar, similar to literature which refers to the Victorian age or  Kennedy years in British and American contexts. Looking back through history, I willattempt to trace the complex influences upon language education over the years and showhow they may shape the current situation. It is argued in this combination of perspectivesthat influences upon general English education over the last 150 years may help tounderstand the current complexities of the language education. History is seen in thissection as referring to not simply what happens in the English classroom, but what hashappened socially, politically and economically around it.In terms of the structure of this paper, it is divided into three parts. Firstly, therelationship between globalization and English language education will be explainedfrom a wider perspective including not only in Japan but also all over the world. Thesecond part will look at the world history from the aspect of the Great Navigation Period (Urabe, et al., 1995) and the colonial period from the end of 15th century inEurope. It also describes how Asian countries were influenced by Europe during this period of time. Finally, the third part will move on to the history of English education inJapan which mainly focuses on the following four eras: Meiji (1868-1911), Taisho (1912-1925), Showa (1926-1988) and Heisei (1989-today). Each era contains some significantsocial events which are not only domestic but also international in srcin and investigateshow those macro events influence English education in Japan. 1. Globalization and English LanguageEducation In this section, the history of English education in Japan will be investigated, focusing onthe globalization of English language teaching and the position of foreign languageeducation in Japanese society. According to Giddens (1990), globalization can be definedas follows:… the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such away that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and viceversa (Giddens, 1990, p. 64 as cited in Block, 2004, p. 75)In terms of language education, Imura (2003) expresses a similar view, saying thatforeign language education and social events in the world are closely related to eachother. The history of English education in Japan is, however, not the exception to thisinter-connection between world, 'macro', events and the effects they have had on localeducation, the 'micro'. Looking back in history, according to Block (2004, p. 75), someresearchers think that the clearest effects of globalization started in the 15th century when Europeans began to map colonize the world . This process of colonization wasaccompanied by the globalization of the English language which Phillipson (1992) terms  as linguistic imperialism . However, Brutt-Giffler (2002) recently contradicts thisconnection between colonization and the enforced spread of English:…colonial language policy was not necessarily related to language spread, andthat the spread of English was just as much a product of the struggle againstimperialism (Brutt-Griffler, 2002 as cited in Park, 2004, p. 87).Taking this alternative stance, the history of English language education in Japan may beviewed as being partly based on Brutt-Griffler's idea of a struggle against imperialism , but also, I would argue, as a struggle for imperialism in which English, and its teaching,have been at various times in history regarded as positive and negative influences onsociety. To explain this apparently complex struggle , it is necessary to outline howEnglish education was introduced to Japan and how it has been operating in this countryfrom the mid 1800s with respect to the inter-connection between world, 'macro' eventsand local Japanese 'micro' events. Consequently, such a detailed and reflective account of the history of Japanese language education requires, as Phillipson (1992) and Pennycook (1994) advocate, the supplementary description of a variety of macro and micro social, political and economic issues all influential upon language education. This creates adescriptive framework for the interpretation of the varying states of English languageeducation through time, a seemingly inter-connected 'mesh' of events which show howeducational trends and policy decisions have been porous to national and internationalevents. 2. World History in the Great NavigationPeriod Before giving a detailed description of the history from mid-1800s, I will briefly outlinesome significant incidents in the world before and around that period of time. Urabe et al(1995) term the few centuries from the end of 15th century as the Great Navigation Period in Europe. During this time, Europeans explored Africa, America and Asia anddiscovered new passages for global commerce. They also colonized vast areas of theworld, creating economic zones, such as the establishment of East Asian Company inIndia by Britain in 1600, which were primarily of benefit to European producers andconsumers. Nakano (2004) traces the historical relationship between Japan and western countriesaround this period. The Japanese government had banned commerce with other countriesexcept Holland and China for almost 210 years from 1603 to the beginning of 1800. Thegovernment, called Tokugawa Bakufu (1603-1867), ruled Japan for more than 250 years,determining the political and economic stance, that of isolation of the country, towardsthe rest of the world. Due to various reasons, including pressure from the West, itreturned this power to the Emperor, Meiji, in 1868. Although there had been relativedomestic peace and stability in the Tokugawa Bakufu period in Japan, there were fewopportunities to import innovations in science and technology from Europe and theUnited States. In contrast, while Japan was isolated from the world, the IndustrialRevolution occurred in Britain at the end of the 18th century and after Britain started to  export industrial machinery from 1825, this movement spread to other Europeancountries and the United States (Urabe, et al, 1995).Urabe et al (1995) also describes that in the 19th century, after European countriesembarked upon their own Industrial Revolution, they began to invade Asia to find newmarkets. In South East Asia, for example, the colonization by Holland, Britain andFrance proceeded and only Thailand kept independence at that time. In East Asia, Chinalost the Opium War (1840-1842) with Britain and then the Arrow War (1856-1860) withBritain and France. Thereafter, China was forced to sign treaties with European countrieswhich were fundamentally detrimental to their political and economic sovereignty. Thisis concisely described by Urabe et al (1995) who state that the most recent turning pointin the modern history of Asian countries is the nineteenth century resistance against theEuropean invasions and the subsequent struggle to overcome crises which were a resultof that resistance. In essence, this period of resistance meant that Asian countries neededto adopt European civilization and reform their own traditional systems. Japan was facedwith a similar situation to other Asian countries at the end of the Tokugawa Bakufu period, a time in which social, political and economic systems needed to undergo drasticinternally-driven reform, yet were predominantly motivated by pressure from external,that is, foreign governments. The next section will describe English education in this period. 3. History of English Education in Japan This section is divided into four parts according to the various Japanese Imperial Eras because Japanese commonly view history in these time blocks. In Japan, a new era isusually made when the new emperor succeeds the throne. The first part of this section isthe Meiji Era lasting almost 40 years from 1868 to 1911. The second part is the TaishoEra from 1912 to 1925 which, at 13 years, is relatively short. The third part is the ShowaEra from 1926 to 1988, at approximately 60 years, and the fourth is the Heisei Era, thecurrent era from 1989 to the present.To investigate the relationship between social, political and economic events (the 'macro'events) and English education in Japan, a table has been formed containing three items:(1) the year according to the western calendar, A.D., (2) its equivalent Japanese Era, (3)events related to English Education in Japan and (4) social, political and economicevents. This table is an adaptation of Imura (2003) from the Japanese, simplifiedaccording to my purposes. Before the Meiji Era (1868-1911), there was a crucial incidentin 1853 for the Tokugawa Bakufu government. Nakano (2004) describes howCommodore Matthew Calbraith Perry came to Japan bringing a letter from AmericanPresident Millard Fillmore asking for the establishment of a commercial relationship withJapan. The technology and the military power of the United States seemed to be far moreadvanced compared to Japan at that time. The huge gap between the two countries can beimagined from the following quotation.There was Perry with his four black ships of evil , thundering an ominous salute at theJapanese coast by firing his cannon. And there were the Japanese, lined up on the shore,armed with swords and old-fashioned muskets. (Buruma, 2003, p. 11).
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