New Theories and Practice in Social Studies in Japan: Is Citizenship Education the Aim of Social Studies as a School Subject?

  • Norio Ikeno


This paper aims to introduce new theories and practice in Social Studies in Japan since the 1990s, to outline some trends and characteristics relating to the question ‘Is Citizenship Education the aim of Social Studies as a school subject?’ and to identify ‘Applied’ and ‘Academic’ Social Studies as two separate categories. The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology has long advocated the merits of Applied Social Studies, but recent trends have seen educational researchers and local education administrators actively supporting the reformation and promotion of Social Studies from an ‘applied’ perspective. Going even further, several schools and districts are so in favour of this development that Citizenship Education has been incorporated as a subject or topic into the school curriculum. However, defence of Academic Social Studies is also deeply rooted; its argument being that Social Studies means Social Sciences. According to this view, Geography, History and Civics (comprising politics, economics and sociology) are treated as distinct fields of Social Studies.