Teachers' Unions and the Politics of Education in Japan

By Robert W. Aspinall

Subjects: Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Japan in Transition
Paperback : 9780791450505, 254 pages, August 2001
Hardcover : 9780791450499, 254 pages, August 2001

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Table of contents


1. The American Occupation, the First Postwar Teachers' Unions and the Formation of Nikkyoso

2. The History of Nikkyoso, 1952-1988

3. Nikkyoso's 1989 Schism: the End of an Era?

4. Teacher's Unions and Power Relations Within the Japanese Education System

5. The Contribution to the Debate on Education Reform Made by Nikkyoso and Zenkyo

6. The Place of Teachers' Unions Within the Wider Union Movement

7. Changing Teachers' Unions and Political Realignment


A study of Japan's powerful teachers' unions, including an in-depth look at the schism of the largest union in 1989.


Providing an overview of the history of postwar teachers' unions in Japan, this book analyses the causes and effects of the 1989 schism of the largest union, the Japan Teachers' Union (Nikkyoso). Formed in 1947 during a period of great change for both the Japanese educational and political systems, this union has been closely linked with developments in both of these areas. The 1989 schism occurred at the start of another period of great change for politics and education.

Author Robert W. Aspinall uses several theoretical models to discuss the schism and then offers modifications of the theoretical models to account for political changes that have occurred since they were created. He also places the fortunes of the union in the wider context of Japanese unionism and party politics, examines the role of teachers' unions at all levels of the education hierarchy, and describes the role of unions in the current wave of educational reform.

Robert W. Aspinall is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Systems, Faculty of Economics, Shiga University.


"It is an excellent book, well-written, and thoroughly researched and documented. Nothing like it exists in the field of Japanese politics and education. " — Donald R. Thurston, author of Teachers and Politics in Japan

"This book should interest all serious students of postwar Japan. Its significance goes well beyond education and speaks to the right-left split in postwar Japanese society. " — Edward R. Beauchamp, coeditor of Japanese Education Since 1945: A Documentary Study