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Sep 01, 2021

Among Japan’s most serious and longest running demographic challenges is its rapidly ageing population. Despite incentives from the government to reverse the trend, population growth remains negative, while the number of marriages has decreased since the early 1970s.

To address this protracted problem, successive governments have relaxed immigration laws and have encouraged non-Japanese to study, work and live in the country. To further ease assimilation, Japanese universities have instituted English-only degree programs.

At the same time, Japan has needed to strengthen government programs to support its elderly population and look after their health. Playing a key role in this mission are the country’s many medical and dental universities and schools.

“Even though we are small now, we are focused on spreading awareness of the importance of dental health, which is not only about our teeth but about oral health as a whole. That is one of Fukuoka Dental College’s main goals. We want to change people’s perception of dentistry, given that Japan already targets a large global market for general medicine,” said Fukuoka Dental College Chairperson Dr. Sachiyo Suita.

Osaka Dental University shares the same goal, which is to educate more people about the huge role of dental health in one’s general wellbeing and improve the quality of dental education in the country by gathering information from around the world and incorporating the latest knowledge and breakthroughs into its programs.

“We believe deeply the founding spirit of our university – Philanthropy and Public Interest – will save countless lives, not only through dentistry but also through medicine as a profession. Looking towards the future, we aim for sustainable expansion and development as a comprehensive medical university by nurturing medical professionals that will look after patients closely and live out our founding spirit,” said Osaka Dental University President and Chairman Takayoshi Kawazoe.

A deeply patriarchal society, Japan has not fared as well in terms of gender equality as other highly advanced economies. Reflective of its very conservative values, the country has many all-female universities and educational institutions which, while they differ in terms of style of instruction and focus, have not compromised on quality of education. 

“We are a private school. Compared to some others, we are relatively small. But, we look at our students as individuals, not as a group. We have a more human-centered or individual-centered approach. The most important thing for us is that each faculty consults with each student to know if they have any problems and know what we need to improve. Those are very important things we focus on,” Kobe Women’s University President Nobutaka Kurihara.

Education in Japan 2021 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

PDF of the printed report

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