Just in: 17 Japanese universities abolish humanities and liberal arts

Just in: 17 Japanese universities abolish humanities and liberal arts


norman lebrecht

September 16, 2015

A call from prime minister Abe to accentuate ‘practical vocational education that better anticipates the needs of society’ has drawn a rapid response.

Out of 60 national universities that offer courses in humanities and social sciences, 26 say they will cut back their faculties. Of these, 17 will shut them altogether, according to the THES. Japan’s universities regularly top polls as being the best in Asia.

This could mark the start of a global trend.

japan university

Your thoughts?



  • Peter says:

    Homo sapiens is on the way out. Welcome Homo economicus. Certainly a regression. Homo sapiens education in the future is reserved for about 1%. The role of the rest: Slaves.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Shocking news. But this has already been a trend for some years in the West. Especially since postmodernism (Faucoult, Derrida, Bourdieu etc.) became an effective weapon to criticize the humanoria as mere instruments of the bourgeois class to secure political power, money and attention began to flow to mere practical ends. Obviously, the humanities are instruments of personality- and character-formation, and of creating and sustaining cultural identity without which no civilization can exist. They are the basis of everything else.

    Now, imagine the effect of a total lack of character/cultural formation in generations who will have to cope with the integration of millions of non-European fugitives in Europe. The humanities define cultural identity and thus, create the context of society. If education is merely focussed upon practicalities, the entire dimension necessary to implement these practicalities would be absent, and the results are easy to envisage.

    Germany is in this sense a striking example of the problem today: on one hand, a ‘culture of welcome’ based upon the idea of a ‘Wertengemeinschaft’ (community of values). And on the other hand, the mobilization of rightwing extremist thugs attacking foreigners and burning asylum centres, in fact an open undermining of democratic and civilized society.

    • Andrew says:

      John, do you live in Germany? If you do happen to live here, I’d suggest you are not seeing a particularly broad spectrum of this country’s efforts to help the situation…starting with an immense volunteer presence. If you are concerned about right-wing thugs, I’d suggest looking towards Hungary, where their political leader is openly right-wing and has been busy building razor-wire fences and mobilizing police with tear gas to ‘fight back’ the refugees.

      Whilst I am totally on board with the other points you make, I am a little tired of unfounded Germany-bashing. I mean, this is a country that seems to be damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t. It lets refugees in, it gets accused of creating a refugee ‘pull’. If it doesn’t let refugees in: cold, cruel, blind-to-their-own-history-Germany. Of COURSE there are going to be flashes of violence, and flashes of right-wing, nationalist extremism. But it is totally unfair to suggest that this is a peculiarly GERMAN…just ask any other EU country……..and what’s more, it is a totally unfair and skewed representation of the currently open-minded, warm-hearted, generosity in evidence throughout this country. Greetings from Berlin.

      • John Borstlap says:

        I entirely agree and did not want to come across as a Germany-basher. Maybe I did not formulate well… I merely meant to point to Germany because the European problem is most visible there, both sides of the spectrum. I think Germany is doing just right at the moment and I sincerely hope they will succeed. Obviously, Germany is Europe’s heart and since it has become its leader, the challenge of pulling Europe along is immense but I believe the Germans will be able to do it. To see the volunteer input is just stunning…. and yes, the Hungarians do not seem to want to belong to Europe. Only when it provides advantages, yes, but when there are problems, Europe is suddenly far away.

        And no, I don’t live in Germany but have my professional contacts there. And love Berlin.

  • V.Lind says:

    It is beyond belief that in so few years the whole idea of a university education has been reduced to the sort of vocational school approach that used to be (wrongly) disdained by university students. Dumbing down is no longer a joke, with nasty cultural consequences. It is national policy in an ancient civilisation and will be leapt upon with glee by others that used to have pretensions of real cultural consequence.

  • George King says:

    Really terrible news. Can’t see any upside to this decision.

  • TI says:

    None of the English-language versions of the Japanese papers have published the list of the universities that responded to the Yomiuri Shinbun survey. But the business lobby group Keidanren is definitely not keen about the proposal:


  • Andrew says:

    The START of a global trend? Where has this trend NOT been in evidence?

  • Holger H. says:

    The Japanese are losing their humanity.

  • TBBAUM says:

    Hoping this becomes a global trend. Japan is set to become the leader in HDI in the next 30 years, and making smart moves like this in backing the patriarchy is part of the reason why.
    Higher civilizations should abolish liberal arts and lean on nationalism, sorority and fraternity in order to safeguard civil behavior and save civilization from the general incoming decline.
    Take a closer look at the unproductive professions and lifestyles of people married to the liberal arts.

  • Cassé Tyer says:

    Good riddance. Humanities & social studies are usually just postmodern cultural Marxist echo chambers, producing nonsense at best and toxic filth at worst. Nothing to do with culture or civilization – these faculties are a main reason for the dumbing down which is happening in Western world. They twist, poison and misrepresent everything they touch – they are truly the deconstructors of Western culture, enemies of all tradition of civilization! Not a wonder if the Japanese don’t want them to wreck their nation.

  • jorge videla says:

    in america public universities now cost $100,000 for 4 years, yet america is last in the developed world in wealth per adult at $43,000.

    all of the humanities, social science, law, music, and almost all of the natural science faculty are just CRIMINALS.

    they belong in prison, not “teaching”.