Education sector in Japan

As Japanese corporate activities focus more on overseas markets Japan needs to develop people who can be globally competent creating opportunities in the corporate training sector and in English education ranging from toddlers to adults.

Market overview

Compulsory education is from age 7 to 15 (elementary and junior high schools) but more than 97% of children aged 16-18 attend senior high schools. Approximately 50% of students who have completed senior high schools attend universities.

There are 3.3 million senior high school (age 16-18) students and 3.6 million junior high school (age 13-15) students. The vast majority of children attend municipal schools but there are also private schools.

Despite the decline in the younger population, there are nearly 800 universities in Japan. There are 2.6 million undergraduate students of which 80% attend private universities.

The Japanese Education Ministry (MEXT) sets a national curriculum for elementary, junior and senior high schools. There are 24 schools which offer an International Baccalaureate programme (of which only 6 are Japanese schools, others are International Schools).

English is a compulsory subject at junior and senior high schools and it has recently become so for Years 5 and 6 at elementary schools.

Outside of schools, there is an enormous market for English Language Teaching (ELT) amounting to £4 billion (ELT schools, textbooks, etc).

Key opportunities

  • English language teaching (ELT)

The market is huge but there is a lot of local competition. However, the market remains strong particularly for the adults/business segment as English becomes an even more important skill for business people.

  • Corporate training

Japanese companies have a need to develop globally competent leaders. There is also a need for them to unify their HR policy worldwide and identify and develop future talent across the globe and make best deployment.

  • Internationalisation of universities

In order for universities to develop future leaders in global business, MEXT launched the “Global 30” programme in 2012 to attract foreign students from abroad, held some classes in English and internationalised their curriculum. MEXT allocated budget to 35 institutions (total of JPY3 billion). Japanese universities may be interested in working with foreign universities to provide joint degree courses.

  • Internship

Japanese companies are not satisfied with just sending their employees abroad for studying a foreign language but would like an opportunity for them to operate in a western business environment.

  • Education ICT

Use of educational software in classroom teaching is not as widespread in Japan as in the UK. This may change with the government’s interest in distributing tablets to schools.

Latest export opportunities in the Education & Training sector

Latest export opportunities in Japan

Getting into the market

In order to supply educational institutions, it would be very necessary to have a Japanese partner particularly as public institutions would need to source from registered suppliers.

When a product requires localisation/modification to suit the Japanese market, educational institutions are usually unable to do this by themselves and you would require a Japanese partner who can also provide after sales support.

If you are trying to sell training services to Japanese clients, not many would be prepared to contract with you direct mainly due to language issues. You would need to find a partner in Japan who would either be a licensee or a reseller of your training services.

More about doing business in Japan


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To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Latest events in Education & Training sector

Latest events in Japan

Major Events

Educational IT Solutions Expo (Edix)

21-24 May 2014, Tokyo Big Sight

New Education Expo

June 2014 (Dates tbc), Tokyo Fashion Town (Japanese only)

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Education & Training
Countries: Japan
Export Action Plan