Re-educating the Japanese: the US occupation and postwar Japan's first minister of education

Kumano, Ruriko
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Some scholars have viewed the reforms of the first postwar Minister of Education Maeda Tamon (1884-1962) as purely Japanese. Maeda served the office from 18 August 1945, before the Allied Occupation officially began, through the initial period of the Occupation, until 13 January 1946. He initiated educational reforms without interference of the occupation for the first two months after the occupation began. Hidefumi Kurosawa depicts Maeda as a liberal reformer. Kurosawa analyzes Maeda's educational philosophy and concludes that it was nascent democratic thinking that began in prewar Japan. Eiichi Suzuki, on the other hand, describes Maeda as a conservative vanguard of prewar educational philosophy by citing Maeda's statements emphasizing preservation of the national polity, the emperor system. Toshio Nishi also portrays Maeda as a conservative defender of the Imperial Rescript on Education. These divergent interpretations are not surprising because Maeda's reforms were a combination of the old and the new. While he emphasized preserving the emperor as the source of moral education, he also advocated liberal changes, such as abolishing regimental teaching, developing critical thinking, and strengthening scientific education. By placing Maeda's reforms in comparison to those of the United States, my study clarifies how the Japanese government and occupation administrators viewed the democratization of Japan differently. Maeda assumed that his reforms met with SCAP's demands. However, SCAP thought differently.
iv, 112 leaves
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