Tackling “Examination Hell” in Japan, 1920 to 1945: Children’s Well-being, Fair Competition, and the Needs of the State

Peter Cave, Manabu Ishioka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This essay examines attempts between 1920 and 1945 to tackle “examination hell,” the pressures on children that resulted from competition to enter secondary school. Debates centered on harm to children, education, and ultimately the nation. Fair competition between individuals was weighed alongside the needs of the state. From 1939, reforms to secondary entrance procedures manifested radical statism, paralleling extensions of state control in other fields. This wartime movement away from selectivity prepared the ground for postwar reforms, as well as later efforts to combat “examination hell.” Recent erosion of such efforts leaves unresolved questions about individual freedom and state control.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Japanese Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Oct 2023

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