Thanks for your questions: they allow me to escape from what has been so far the ennui of negativity this week. You ask about relationships, and what you heard is indeed correct: the in-group tendencies in Japan result in trust only being given to those who can demonstrate a connection to the particular group.
In terms of pressures and influences on Japanese HEIs, you hit upon one of what I consider to be the serious weaknesses in the situation here. You write;
“Without a global awareness, education rarely challenges the prevailing interests of the dominant groups” (Yee, 2016).
Political apathy is high among the Japanese university-age population. By last Thursday many of my 2nd and 3rd year students were not fully aware of the major Upper House elections that happened on Sunday. Furthermore, even most those who did had no intention of voting. The eventual overall 54.7 percent voter turnout saw only 33.37 percent of those in their 20s (Mainichi, July 12 2016). This is not surprising due to the “systematic avoidance of political issues” in Japanese middle- and high-schools (Mie & Osaki, 2016). The compulsory education curriculum is mandated by the government and does not contain the study of social and political systems (Mie & Osaki, 2016). ‘Global’ awareness education, similarly, faces an uphill battle. Since 2000, the Ministry of Education have been promoting English as a medium for understanding Japan, claiming;
“However, compared with the efforts made [by Japan] to introduce knowledge and technologies of Western countries, it is undeniable that Japan has made fewer efforts to deepen foreign countries’ understanding of Japan” (Monbukagakusho [MEXT], 2000).
In other words, the purpose of English study is not about developing the individual, nor about enabling a world-view; it is about teaching the world about Japan. Now English-learning textbooks for 12-18-year-olds contain mainly topics that aid Japanese students to discuss Japanese culture in English (Hardy, 2016). Because English is the international language, explaining Japan in English makes the Japanese ‘international’ (Hardy, 2016). For three full turnovers of middle- and high-school populations (i.e. three rotations of six year spans), Japanese school-age children are inculcated to equate being international with learning how to explain Japan!
I selected teaching and learning as one of my main concerns for the team work in weeks two and three partly because of this extreme inward vision. In many regards, the notion of creating a globalised citizen is so removed from the actuality of the classroom and the curriculum that if I were not so naturally optimistic, I’d cry.
Hardy, T. (2016). International Education: The Beginnings. In J. Mock & N. Naganuma (Eds.), The Impact of Internationalization on Japanese Higher Education: Is Japanese Education Really Changing? (pp. 179–190). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
Monbukagakusho [MEXT]. (2000). Significance of International Cultural Exchange. Retrieved July 4, 2015, from http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/hakusho/html/hpae200001/hpae200001_2_094.html
Mie, A., & Osaki, T. (2016, May 2). Systemic avoidance of political issues by schools keep youth vote in the dark. The Japan Times. Retrieved from http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/05/02/national/politics-diplomacy/systemic-avoidance-political-issues-schools-keeps-youth-vote-dark
Mainichi. (2016, July 12). Teens’ upper house voting rate stands at 45%, below overall turnout. The Mainichi. Retrieved from http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160712/p2g/00m/0dm/004000c
Yee, J. (2106). Re: Discussion. [Forum Post]. Message posted on July 11 2016 to https://elearning.uol.ohecampus.com/webapps/discussionboard/do/message