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Tanaka backpedals on approving 3 new universities

41 Comments

Education Minister Makiko Tanaka has reversed her decision to refuse official status to three new universities.

Tanaka stunned the education world last Friday when she refused to grant official status to an arts college in Akita, a medical school in Sapporo and a women's university in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture. The three institutions had already been given the green light by a ministry screening council and were already accepting enrollments.

Tanaka said that Japan had too many universities, many of which were financially struggling because they couldn't attract enough students. She also said that she wanted to change the procedures for screening and approving new universities.

Tanaka met Wednesday with officials from the three institutions, and then announced the reversal of her decision at a meeting of a lower house education subcommittee, Fuji TV reported. Tanaka said she had been misunderstood and that she meant to say she would review the decision based on the current requirements for new academic institutions, which the three new universities met.

The board chairman of the proposed Sapporo medical school told reporters, "This will be a huge relief to the students. However, this has been a bitter experience for us, so I can't have total confidence in her decision."

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Huge dislike on this. Tanaka, stick to your guns. You're were and are right that there are too many unis and of poor standing. Fix it please - it is your job now after all. Ignore the pocking lining bullies and old gits who think nothing of ripping of the public with ill spend tax money and ripping off students - or should I say their parents?

3 ( +9 / -6 )

I wonder who leaned on Tanaka.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Without knowing if there is a need or not. It is difficult to say if there should be 3 more universities build and state funded. If they are privately funded then I don't see a problem. I am guessing given the reaction they are state funded. I just hope it's not a waste of money.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Reza NONE of the unis here are 100% privately funded. They ALL get money from our taxes to run. And many are only existing because of the tax money they are getting. It needs to stop. None of these universities are needed. With schools fighting over students, there are plenty of empty seats all over the country that I'd rather be filled than open up three more schools who waste more money and line the pockets of the presidents and their cronies.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

The board chairman of the proposed Sapporo medical school told reporters, “This will be a huge relief to the students."

I feel dumb for asking, but can anyone explain why it would be a huge relief to the students? Tuition issues?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I feel dumb for asking, but can anyone explain why it would be a huge relief to the students?

Because they're been accepted to a school that will exist, versus a school that will not exist. Degrees from schools that exist are preferred by Japanese employers.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

More like a relief for those wanting to line their pockets. The students will graduate from a new, no name university. Not exactly going to help their job hunting. Anyone worth their degree would be heading to one of the already established med unis out there. There are enough of them.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Ms Tanaka took it upon herself to nullification previously approved accreditation for three schools thinking that she was queen and not a member of a cabinet.

Now after being slapped down for overstepping her authority she has begun to dance. I would not be surprised if she attempts to pass blame for her own actions onto a member or members of her staff. I wait to hear her tell the news that she is the victim and not the perpetrator of her own actions.

This is not her first dance with arrogance and disrespect of a Prime Minister, atleast the last PM fired her for her complete incompetence, but knowing how little of a backbone Mr Noda has I do not see him doing the same.

This incident just highlights the complete lack of respect she hold for Mr Noda and his lack of response proves that he has no backbone.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I told you she wud be forced to recant..................WTF!

There needs to be a BAN on new Uni's/Colleges PERIOD!

The only things that shud be happening are consolidating & re-furbishing & BOTH need to be VERY HEAVILY SCRUTINIZED...........................but that will never happen.

This country is in a friggin nose dive downwards, no one in Nagatacho has a friggin clue!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

BrainiacNov. 08, 2012 - 01:19PM JST I wonder who leaned on Tanaka.

It was the Judge that was about to pass judgement in favor of the three schools that sued her over her actions.

She was wrong and overstepped her authority at a chance to win favor with the people. But, the only thing she has won is more scorn and disapproval for the Noda Administration.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Joe, what is your issue with her? Do you think Japan needs more universities? Do you think Japanese universities offer quality education?

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JoeBiggs: "She was wrong and overstepped her authority at a chance to win favor with the people."

This had NOTHING to do with 'winning favour with the people', and if anything she LOST favour with quite a few. Obviously someone in government leaned on her for her to reverse a decision she seemed pretty hell bent on in the first place -- likely 'the establishment' (ie. old men with power and money who are used to getting their way).

But do tell us, Joe, how these three schools are going to help a nation with most of its schools in the red and depending on our tax money via government subsidies to help them keep afloat?

She made a good decision -- one that would save the nation money in both the short run by putting it elsewhere (where it's needed), and in the long run by bailing the schools out when they flounder in less than 5 years -- but unfortunately as usual in Japan, power prevails and money trumps reason.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Read Brian McVeigh's books for an insider's account on Japan's dismal higher education system and the pork barrel politics involved.

At first I thought "finally!" someone has come to their senses and slashed wasteful spending for unnecessary institutions, but NO! She's reversed herself -

When will this place ever, ever reform? From the nuke industry, keystone, inept cops and the education lobby - the public just takes it all lying down. There is a glut of internationally panned Japanese universities. There is no need for more.

Of course i was wrong to think she'd stick by her guns. Shameful.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They need more doctors.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Quote: "Tanaka said she had been misunderstood and that she meant to say she would review the decision based on the current requirements for new academic institutions, which the three new universities met."

I heard this in Japanese last night and here it is in English. Clear as mud.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

With out passing judgement on either her decsion or the application process, I thought it was particularly gutless of her to pass off responsibility for the issue on "a mistake by subordinates." She even had a career employee of the ministry get up in front of the mike and say "it was my fault."

When you are at the top, the first rule of management is "the buck stops with you." You don't throw your employees under the bus to save yourself (unless you are the untouchable M. Tanaka.) That was a very cowardly thing to do. If you were wrong admit it. If you had pressure put on you, explain why you changed your mind. Don't put your underlings in the line of fire to save your own skin.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tanaka said she had been misunderstood and that she meant to say she would review the decision

So which was it Tanaka-san? Were you "misunderstood", which implies someone else is at fault, or didn't you say what you "meant" to say, which implies you're at fault?

Or are you trying to have it both ways?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Maybe she was misunderstood as a child too. Especially with a father like that.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Luca, I think it was "I misunderstood what my job is. I thought I was here to improve education in Japan while also yet needless spending. However, when I tried to do that the old guys at the top and the uni presidents who want to line their pockets freaked out and made me reverse my correct decision all while crying to the media about what a witch I am" misunderstanding.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Too bad...succumbing to the pressure. As long as Japan's leaders behave in such a manner, Japan is sure to face a fiscal cliff.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Right, Tanaka was misunderstood. Misunderstood or not, I am glad she was forced to backrack. Those three universities had gone through an extensive approval process, they had already outlaid considerable money and hired staff, naturally assuming that nothing stood in their way to open. A lot of people stood to get hurt. Imagine the staff that expected to be hired and would have to have their invitations terminated.

I remember myself being hired by a college about to open. I had to hand in my resignation to my old school and then sit on pins and needles for a few months waiting for the final approval from the Ministry of Education. Approval, incidentally, is a step by step process.

Okay what terrible things are going to happen?

Akita will get a fine arts university. It does not have one.

Sapporo will get its second medical university.

Okazai Women's junior College will be ungraded to a university.

Things will not fall apart and we taxpayers won't be impoverished.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@tmarie

Sigh... you're probably right. Wouldn't it be great if she'd just come out and say it like it is, though?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I Dont think it was a matter of someone leaning on her-it was pretty obvious to everyone that she was in the right yet, the unis in question do deserve to be let known that the procedure for processing an approval has changed before they started out with their application. I think it was a pretty good way of letting everyone, from the taxpayer to all those involved-particularly the big building industries-that it wont be happening anymore. Or at the least, waiting for an approval before starting on construction.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Typical... At least Sapporo gets another med school

KabukiloverNov. 08, 2012 - 06:37PM JST

Sapporo will get its second medical university.

Third actually, after Sapporo City and Hokkaido University. For comparisons, similar sized Chicago has over half a dozen major medical schools, many more if you include metropolitan area. It's actually a disgrace that there are so few medical schools in Sapporo, considering it is the fourth largest city in Japan.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Sad that this controversy does not address the real problems with the entire system and the poor management of most universities that rely on government subsidies rather than to effectively run them. The entire program disregards the purpose and responsibility of an educational institution which should be for the students and for the society's benefit.

That is why they are NPO's. However, it appears that the government puts limits and restrictions as well as academic requirements with multitudes of policies and procedures that effectively prevents sound management and opens doors for abuse. Other than for some researched based schools, there is limited "funding" to run them. The primary source being enrollment, the decline in enrollment means there is a need to reduce ineffective schools and not increase them. Then there is a need to make those that do exist much more efficient and productive.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They need some of the hordes of existing doctors

There are no hordes. They are closing hospitals due to lack of doctors and nurses, and they let patients die outside. The number of doctor per inhabitants is Third-World level. 20 per 10 000 inhabitants, at the last count some years ago and it's decreasing. European countries have 30 to 40 doctors per 10 000 inhabitants, and they need more to take care of aging population.

"Tanaka said she had been misunderstood

What about closing Waseda if they are not even able to teach their students how to communicate ?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Interesting. Remember when she was Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Koizumi Administration and she had problems with the people in her dept. Maybe she just needs to realize that cabinet ministers are puppets and stop trying to get in the way of the bureaucrats.

Hasn't she watched Yes, Minister?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Let me add a few things. Do not think that the Education and Sports Ministry is allowing the promiscuous establishment of universities at this late date. The three in question proved their right to exist, and I can understand how. Akita had no arts university. Sapporo had but one medical university. Okazaki Women's Junior College had established itself well enough to qualify for university status. It is technically not a new university but an old Jr. college that is expending.

Don't think that the government is willing to support failing universities forever. They are perfectly happy to let the failing one die, but not before following the correct procedures for closing.

I agree that there are too many universities in Japan. But the ones that ought to go are not necessarily new ones. There are old established pond scum universities that will take the worst students if they can find someone pay for them. Think of a so-called business college where the punks sit on the desks, smoke and use cell phones during lessons and you have the picture.

The problem is that the Education and Sports Ministry is strict when schools are opening and when they are being monitored for four years (universities) and two years (jr. colleges) and then lets them pretty much go.

The trouble is that the pond scum schools have a stable source of income, the parents of pond scum children, of which there is no short supply, the falling birthrate notwithstanding. Often good new schools have to fight for recognition. A lot fail because they are in bad locations--isolated or uninteresting--or are not good at selling themselves. Some, frankly, ought to have never seen the light of day, like the late and unlamented junior college that was set up as a shopping mall.

A major problem is that most universities are geared fro 18 to 22 year-olds and are therefore not cashing in on the millions of older people who want college degrees.

In the case of the three in question, I believe they were created and upgraded in the face of genuine need.

Now if you want end a big money waster, end government subsidies of whaling, which has created tons of dioxide drenched meat that no one wants.

Again sorry for any typos. I'm on call.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Luca, pretty much what she did right? Those of us "in the know" say though it pretty clearly. Shame the rest of the population doesn't get it.

Okazaki Women's Junior College had established itself well enough to qualify for university status. It is technically not a new university but an old Jr. college that is expending. In an area that already HAS a female university and many others to boot. The only reason why this tandai is going to four year is because no one wants to go to Tandai anymore and they need more students. They think going to four years will make that happen. It won't. Very few women in the Okazaki/Nagoya area will go there when there are other more established options.

Sapporo has two medical universities if I'm not mistaken. Akita isn't a large area and most go away to university. Very few folks will want to GO to Akita for their university education. More so to a new school with zero rep which won't help them get jobs. Plenty of other schools in Japan that offer whatever courses this place does.

Don't think that the government is willing to support failing universities forever. They are perfectly happy to let the failing one die, but not before following the correct procedures for closing.

When will the time come that they stop? Can you name me ONE university that has actually closed? I can name you a few tandais that have gone from two to four year unis because of lack of students but nope, WE the taxpayers are propping up these money waster universities.

I will agree with you that there are too many crap schools out there but most are struggling - and being propped up. I would rather money go towards either fixing these places or closing them rather than start new ones that will probably turn out to be poor as well. I mean, why would they try and excel when so many others don't - and don't be fooled into thinking that these aren't private unis that are owned by groups that already run places. This is all about business, not education.

I want Tanaka to start closing places. State the bar and those that don't meet it get zero funding and close.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well, tmarie, first to raise the bar we have got to kick Tanaka out of the Education and Sports Ministry. She knows squat about education. She is also the sort of person who gets drunk on even just a little power. Not the sort to deal with Japan already dreadful schooling system.

I have news for you about the "crap" schools. A lot of them are thriving simply because they will take anyone and anything.

I think only the university in Sapporo thatr trains doctors is the public Sapporo Medical University. The Health Sciences University of Hokkaido I do not think does, but I could be wrong.

I can think of a number of universities and JCs that have closed but would rather not name them here. I do have first hand knowledge of seeing a college close down. It was eased into its demise. It was a good school but in a difficult location.

I suppose aspiring artists did leave Akita for art school because there was none there. If you are from Akita there are plenty of financial and emotional reasons to go to a local university.

Importantly, university that have passed all the requirements and were ipso facto guaranteed to open ought to be allowed to open.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You guys were all hi fiving her for rejecting the apps on "principles" and other crap when it turns out she didn't even do her research on it and admitted as much. I'm all for limiting bad universities, but this is not the case here. Japan has an excess of bad colleges, but a huge deficit in colleges especially in the area of medical care. That's why they're willing to make exceptions and import Fillipinos and other neighbors for that very purpose.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not sure why you think she knows squat. She the only one who has been in her position to step forward and say there and too many uni and the level if education is pathetic.

The only schools I know doing well are the good ones. The horrible ones are letting anyone in via recommendation but this is very short sighted as reps last a long time and when you let anyone in, the level drops as does the quality of instructor but decent teachers don't want to deal with poorly run schools with lazy students. They are also dying for students - hence doing away with the entrance exam.

The issue here just the unis. The whole entire system is a mess and rotten to the core. I think Tanakas the only one with the balls to address it. Everyone else keeps their head done and hope someone else will deal with it. She doesn't care about popularity and goes in to get a job done - which is why she's disliked by so many. She cause work for others and makes them look bad - ahem, Koizumi. Like her or not, the country needs her and more people like her if they want to survive in this day and age.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Sd, it isn't that they don't have the staff numbers for nurses here. They just have a population of trained women who either don't want to work (and with the pathetic pay I can sympathize) or can't get daycare and support. And look at how Japan has treated these "imports".

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

tmarieNov. 08, 2012 - 03:00PM JST Joe, what is your issue with her? Do you think Japan needs more universities? Do you think Japanese universities offer quality education?

This had nothing to do with higher education and everything to do with a politician who saw an opportunity to garner favor. But when it blew up in her face she backtracked and tried to blame others for her own incompetence.

My issue with her is that she is a corrupt power hungry opportunist and a stain on decency, hope that answers your question.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

smithinjapanNov. 08, 2012 - 03:18PM JST This had NOTHING to do with 'winning favour with the people', and if anything she LOST favour with quite a few.

Again as usual you are trying to backtrack and defend what should not be defended. You forget, or should I say, are trying to forget the fact that this political drama was of her own doing. She is not the victim of this, she is the architect. Through her own incompetence she over stepped her power in a grab for glory and fell flat on her face.

She is now trying to point fingers, but the only fingers that should be pointed are at her and as usual you try and defend the indefensible.

smithinjapanNov. 08, 2012 - 03:18PM JST Obviously someone in government leaned on her for her to reverse a decision she seemed pretty hell bent on in the first place -- likely 'the establishment' (ie. old men with power and money who are used to getting their way).

Wake up and read the news, her incompetence almost cost the Government hundreds of millions of yen in lawsuits. So yes, someone did lean on her, they leaned on her because she was wrong!

smithinjapanNov. 08, 2012 - 03:18PM JST But do tell us, Joe, how these three schools are going to help a nation with most of its schools in the red and depending on our tax money via government subsidies to help them keep afloat?

It does not matter if they will help or not, this has nothing to do with that. Read man, open your own eyes and see the facts! She overstepped her authority through her incompetence and now has egg on her face!

Stop trying to change the facts.

smithinjapanNov. 08, 2012 - 03:18PM JST She made a good decision -- one that would save the nation money in both the short run by putting it elsewhere (where it's needed), and in the long run by bailing the schools out when they flounder in less than 5 years -- but unfortunately as usual in Japan, power prevails and money trumps reason.

Smith, again you are dancing, have you not read anything? She almost cost the Nation HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of YEN. So she was not attempting to save money she was about to cost the nation money!

If she had halfabrain, she would of imposed new rules on future applications not on applications that for all intended purposes had already been approved. She is incompetent and you support her, says a lot about you.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I am just amazed how folks here are trying to defend this incompetent politican.

But, the same folks that are defending her are the same folks that hate Japan, sad.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This had nothing to do with higher education and everything to do with a politician who saw an opportunity to garner favor.

Are we reading the same articles?

Again, do you think Japan needs more unis and do you think the level here is high when it comes to education? Simple yes or no for both works.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

tmarieNov. 09, 2012 - 01:59PM JST

Again, do you think Japan needs more unis and do you think the level here is high when it comes to education? Simple yes or no for both works.

Yes, Yes. But no. You can't put a simple yes or no to those questions, because it's not that simple.

Japan's aging population will be putting a massive strain on the medical system, and more doctors of all types are needed, especially specialty doctors and surgeons. Women's colleges on the other hand are an anachronism that should be done away with, especially in Japan.

As for education level, it's high overall, and low in some areas. But that has nothing to do with universities and everything to do with K-12 education. Universities work best when the students are capable of the simple tasks, but in recent years kids are learning how to beat the entrance exam system (for middle, high, and higher ) rather than actually learning the basics. Any reforms have to start there and work back and forward from there.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If they were approved and met the requirements for approval, she was in the wrong even if she has the authority to block the universities. What she NEEDS to do is change the rules involved with starting a university so that FUTURE applications can be denied based on saturation. This sounds like what she was advised to do after she stepped in "it" with her first announcement.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

But, the same folks that are defending her are the same folks that hate Japan, sad.

I think you'll find they love Japan but hate useless politicians and bureaucrats who are running the country into the ground.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Simon: "I think you'll find they love Japan but hate useless politicians and bureaucrats who are running the country into the ground."

Exactly, and thanks for that. But people like JoeBiggs see red when they want to see red and then can't see through it any more than they can see the forest through the trees blocking their view. He cries about 'MILLIONS' saved because Tanaka back-pedalled when in reality millions are about to be wasted on schools that are not needed, so the politicians and construction companies in question can make a mint. It's this kind of corruption and poor politics that indeed are sickening, but people like Joe Biggs are the real haters of Japan because they fail to address the facts and instead call any criticism of J-politics 'J-bashing' or what have you. I think it's actually a disease.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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