Politics must rest on ethics

Japan’s Government is calling for the closure of all Departments of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Universities

jpv. The news came like a thunderbolt in Japan: At least 26 universities have already agreed to close its departments of humanities and social sciences or at least to cut them down drastically. 17 of them have indicated that they will not accept any new students in these subjects.
On 8 June, the Japanese Minister of National Education, Hakubun Shimomura, informed the presidents of the 86 universities of the country that they “should close its departments of humanities and social sciences or to change them in order to meet the needs of society more adequately.” It called for “focussing on the areas of study that are useful to the economy”.
The opposition to these measures has come immediately. In August, particularly, the Council of Science of Japan has expressed “strong concerns about such a policy for the future of the humanities and social sciences”. The most prestigious universities in Japan, those of Tokyo and Kyoto have declared that they will not implement these government directives.
Certain observers in Japan fear, however, that the recalcitrant universities could be forced through financial pressures to adopt this policy. The demand of the Minister of Education is aligned with the view of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He believes that “education must adapt to the needs of society.” In a lecture at the OECD in 2014, he had stated that “instead of the highly theoretical academic research we want to promote a more technical and professional education, an education that is tailored to the needs of society.”     •

Source: Summary of a report, published in “Le Monde” dated 17.9.2015

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