21 January 2019
An article in the Japan Times by Takamitsu Sawa, a Professor at Shiga University, points out that Japanese universities have declined in the Times Higher Education (THE) world rankings relative to those in China. The article notes that Chinese universities have continued to rise in these rankings while those in Japan have performed less well. This is despite the Prime Minister’s declaration in 2013 that there would be ten Japanese universities in the top 100 within ten years.It appears unlikely that this target will be achieved since leading Japanese universities have been slipping since 2013.
The author suggests several reasons for the disparate performance of the two countries. The number of postgraduate students form China in the USA is much larger than those from Japan. He also notes that the leading Japanese universities receive relatively few citations, that younger researchers lack motivation and that papers in the humanities are mainly written in Japanese rather than English and therefore receive little attention.
A significant cause of decline is government policy which has restricted the funds available for research, causing talented graduate students to work in the private sector.