Basic Facts

  • Education in Japan is based on a 6-3-3-4 system (6 years of elementary school, 3 years of junior high school, 3 years of high school, 4 years of university).
  • The Japanese school year starts in April and consists of three terms, separated by short holidays in spring (around March 25 – April 5) and winter (around Dec. 26 – Jan. 6), and a one month long summer break (around July 20 – August 31).
  • Japan requires 9 years of compulsory education, 6 years of elementary school (shougakkou) and 3 years of junior high school (chūgakkou).
  • Although high school is not compulsory, enrollment in high school is over 96% nationwide and about 46% graduate from university or junior college.
  • Most high schools, universities, as well as a few private junior high schools and elementary schools require applicants to write entrance exams. In order to pass entrance exams to the best institutions, many students attend special preparation schools (juku) besides regular classes, or for one to two years between high school and university (yobikou).
  • At universities the percentage of male students is higher than that of female students while the opposite is the case at junior colleges. The number of graduate university students is relatively low.
  • Japan has one of the world’s best-educated populations, with 100% enrollment in compulsory grades and zero illiteracy.
  • The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology maintains the standard of education in Japan by regulating curriculum, textbooks, and classes.

School System

Japanese School System (MEXT)





Number of Schools

Number of Schools in Japan

















Employment after graduation







Abe, N. Guide. The Japanese education system – School life in Japan. Retrieved from

Chiba Convention Bureau and International Center. (2000). The Japanese education system. Retrieved from

Hays, J. Facts & Details. School life in Japan: School day, lunches, pinworm checks, cell phones, rules. Retrieved from Education. Retrieved from

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Retrieved from Education in Japan. Retrieved from

The Japanese educational system. (2007). Retrieved from

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