Message from the President

The Philosophy of Education Society Japan was established in May 1957 mainly by scholars who took charge of educational research at universities under post-war new educational system and taught “principles of education” in the teacher-training program. The first annual conference was held in October 1958, in which the symposium titled “Trends of modern philosophy of education” was arranged. In June 1959, the academic journal of the society, Studies in the Philosophy of Education, was launched. Since then, our annual conference has been held 62 times and our journal has been published twice a year up to 120 volumes.

The major issues of the society have been about Western educational thoughts and philosophies since its founding, while covering little Japanese ones. The first volume of our Journal includes three papers on European educational thoughts, two papers on John Dewey and one paper on Japanese educational thoughts. It illustrates our predecessors’ attitude of following “advanced” Western educational thoughts to solve educational problems in the period of the post-war recovery of Japan. Also, younger scholars studied and introduced Western classic and modern educational thoughts. The attitude of following the West has been pervasive since the establishment of educational research in the era of Meiji. For instance, Herbartian pedagogy was introduced by Emil Hausknecht who was one of the foreign advisors (O-yatoi gaikokujin) invited to Tokyo Imperial University from Germany in 1886.

Although the philosophy of education following the West has made various contributions to Japanese education, a new trend has arisen since the 1980’s: Research interactions with foreign scholars including Asian scholars have been increased and even international research projects have been done. Now, in this new international context, Japanese scholars are expected to do research not “following the West” but “proposing the Japanese original”; and research not to introduce Western educational thoughts to Japan but to unravel global educational problems with the world standards, or to interpret newly found historical material from an original viewpoint.

One of the urgent issues for Philosophy of Education Society Japan is to globalize research activities of the philosophy of education in Japan. E-Journal of the Philosophy of Education was launched in November 2016 as a tool for the globalization, and its fifth volume has come out. The E-Journal is to be valuable resources about research activities of the philosophy of education in Japan. It is grateful to have any comments from scholars all over the world who are interested in the E-Journal.

President of Philosophy of Education Society Japan

Message from the Former President, Yasuo IMAI (Oct, 2012 – Oct, 2019)

It is my great honor to work for our Society as president. Established in 1957, the Philosophy of Education Society of Japan has made a substantial contribution to the introduction of philosophical and deliberate thinking into the field of education. Over the next three years, I will attempt to develop this tradition further.
 It goes without saying that the current trends in the field of education are not in favor of my attempt to do so. The rallying cries of “evidence” and “efficiency” seem to have erased the call for mature deliberation on education. Programs in the philosophy of education continue to be reduced in the teacher training curriculum and replaced by “practical” programs. This tendency is deeply regrettable because it will deprive future teachers of the opportunity to be trained in thinking carefully about the educational problems they are going to confront. However, I am anything but pessimistic about the situation and the future of our Society. There can be observed many promising indications. I will mention three salient ones.
 Firstly, the methodology of the philosophy of education is disseminated in various areas of educational research. Philosophers of education have made a remarkable contribution in the field of lesson studies and the clinical study of education for a long time. Recently, the areas of higher education and education policy have stood out in particular. Research in these two areas is now unthinkable without the contributions of philosophers of education. Many researchers who were trained in the philosophy of education are lightly crossing the borders of disciplines like “free electrons” and coping with actual problems from the perspective of the philosophy of education.
 Secondary, theoretical and conceptual state-of-the-art investigations are increasing, especially among the younger generation in our Society. Many such investigations go beyond the traditional framework of “education” and “philosophy of education”. It is sometimes lamented that they are too puzzling to understand ordinarily and to meet the practical demands of education. I rather think that their “puzzling” character is, at least partly, explained by their endeavor not to assume a conventional concept of “education”, but to start from the changing reality of education and to generate new concepts that can better capture this changing reality. Such adventurous attempts to generate concepts are essential to philosophical investigations. One important task of our Society as an interactive communication space is not to cut ourselves off from such endeavors, but to make them a subject of common discussion.
 Thirdly and finally, there can be observed an impressive development of international cooperation in the research activities of our members. The research activities of our Society have always been remarkably international. We take it for granted to learn from foreign – which usually means western – thinkers or philosophers such as Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Dewey, Wittgenstein, and Foucault. Sometimes we have been accused of being preoccupied with the importation and translation of western thought. However, on the basis of this outward-looking disposition of our discipline, many research projects of mutual cooperation have been developed with researchers not only in western, but also in Asian countries. Such cooperation has already led to many publications oversees. From this emerges mutual rethinking and unlearning of one’s own concepts beyond the familiar territory of mother tongues. Such experimental efforts in translation in the broader sense are also essential for philosophical investigations. I think that our Society should welcome this task of encouraging the further development of international cooperation.
 At the annual meeting in October 2013, I made a proposal regarding our tasks during the term of my presidency. I named three main foci of our forthcoming activities: (1) enhancing and disseminating the methodology of philosophy of education; (2) encouraging theoretical investigations; and (3) supporting international cooperation. The aim of my proposal was to focus on the positive indications in our Society mentioned above and to develop them further.
 I envision our Society as an interactive communication space in which various different ideas and perspectives interact with each other, thereby stimulating the research activities of each member. I will try to make such interaction freer and more intensive. That will lead to the re-introduction of mature deliberation into the field of education. I ask all of you for your cooperation.


Yasuo IMAI