The Issues Japanese Higher Education Face in the Digital Age—Are Japanese Universities to Blame for the Slow Progress towards an Information-based Society?

  • Miho Funamori National Institute of Informatics
Keywords: Digital age, higher education, information-based society, university reform


A quarter of a century has passed since the Internet was opened to general use. The impact of the Internet, which was initially moderate, is gradually taking shape. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is materializing with the advent of the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. At the same time, higher education is in a period of drastic reform, driven by the globalization, marketization, and massification of higher education. However, adapting to the digital age has not been a priority, and as the turmoil of reforms is settling down, the gaps among universities in terms of adapting to the digital age have become apparent. Japanese universities are among the adaptation laggards. They have also drawn criticism for not being effective enough in producing skilled IT engineers and fostering the development of IT-related startups. But are Japanese universities to blame for the shortcomings of the Japanese IT industry?

This paper analyzes the slow progress towards an information-based society in Japan by first comparing the measures taken by universities at the beginning of the digital age and the criticism Japanese universities have drawn. It then discusses the issues Japan is facing in transitioning to an information-based society and the contributions Japanese universities could make.

Author Biography

Miho Funamori, National Institute of Informatics

Associate Professor

Information and Society Research Division


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