Family-Run Universities in Japan

Family-Run Universities in Japan: Sources of Inbuilt Resilience in the Face of Demographic Pressure, 1992-2030

By Jeremy Breaden and Roger Goodman


Book Description

Globally, private universities enrol one in three of all higher education students. In Japan, which has the second largest higher education system in the world in terms of overall expenditure, almost 80% of all university students attend private institutions. According to some estimates up to 40% of these institutions are family businesses in the sense that members of a single family have substantive ownership or control over their operation.

This book examines how such universities in Japan have negotiated a period of major demographic decline since the 1990s: their experiments in restructuring and reform, the diverse experiences of those who worked and studied within them and, above all, their unexpected resilience. It argues that this resilience derives from a number of ‘inbuilt’ strengths of family business which are often overlooked in conventional descriptions of higher education systems and in predictions regarding the capacity of universities to cope with dramatic changes in their operating environment.



• Provides an in-depth historical, sociological, and ethnographic analysis of Japanese higher education from the standpoint of the private sector which, despite being numerically dominant in Japan, is often overlooked

• Sheds light on family owned and managed higher education institutions which are a rapidly-growing phenomenon across many parts of the world

• Situates family-run universities within the wider context of family business studies


JEREMY BREADEN lectures in Japanese and Asian Studies in the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics at Monash University, Australia. His research focuses on education and employment systems in contemporary Japan and East Asia. His previous works include The Organisational Dynamics of University Reform in Japan (2013) and Articulating Asia in Japanese Higher Education (2018).

ROGER GOODMAN is Nissan Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Oxford. His previous publications include Japan’s ‘International Youth’ (1990), Children of the Japanese State (2000), Family and Social Policy in Japan (2002), and A Sociology of Japanese Youth (2011).


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