First Advisor

Patricia J. Wetzel

Date of Publication

Fall 12-15-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Japanese


World Languages and Literatures




Japanese language -- Study and teaching (Elementary) -- Social aspects, Education, Elementary -- Study and teaching -- Japan, Language arts (Elementary) -- Japan



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 88 pages)


Any type of education implemented by a modern nation-state is, at least in part, a tool for socializing its people. In this regard, Japanese language and literature education, kokugo, has played an important role in Japan by emphasizing nationalism and the integrity of a Japanese identity. According to Ishihara (2007) and Lee (1996 [English translation 2010]), kokugo, since its inception in 1900, has promoted moral awareness and assimilation of Japanese ideals across the country. However, responding to unsatisfactory test results in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2003 and 2006, Japan's Ministry of Education Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) adjusted kokugo education policies. A decision was made to place more emphasis on language skills rather than on the traditional kokugo approach that had been in place from the beginning of the Meiji era (1868-1912). Based on an analysis of Wakaru Kokugo Yomikaki no Tsubo (WKYT) (Understanding Kokugo: The Secrets of Reading and Writing), an educational television program for elementary school kokugo classes by Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai (NHK), this thesis discusses how language skill development has recently been introduced into the kokugo curriculum and Japanese kokugo education policies. This thesis also uses the historical-structural approach of critical language policy research developed by Tollefson (1991, 2013) and Street (1993) to analyze how this modified kokugo education has the potential to affect the social development of students.


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