Asia Pacific Education Review

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 403–417 | Cite as

Expatriate parents and supplementary education in Japan: survival strategy or acculturation strategy

  • Melodie CookEmail author


The increase in the use of supplementary education, or juku, in Japan by Japanese families in order to augment their children’s chances of success in entering prestigious pre-tertiary and tertiary institutions is documented (Blumenthal in Asian Surv 32(5):448–460, 1992; Bray and Lykins in Shadow education; private supplementary tutoring and its implications for policy makers in Asia, Asian Development Bank, Philippines, 2012; Dierkes in The Focus: Supplementary education in Asia, International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden, The Netherlands, 2011; Roesgaard in Japanese education and the cram school business; Functions, challenges and perspectives of the juku, Nordic Institution of Asian Studies, Copenhagen, 2006; Rohlen in J Jpn Stud 6(2):207–242, 1980; Tsukada in Comp Educ, 24(3):285–303, 1988), but there is little known about the use of supplementary education by an ever-growing number of families in Japan in which one or both parents are an expatriate. This exploratory countrywide study of such families hopes to address this lack of research. Initial results show that while a number of factors related to their own culture and values about childhood, education, and family life influence some families’ decision not to send their children to juku, most families tend to use these services for many of the same reasons as their Japanese counterparts, although to a different degree. In addition, they seem to use these services because they are counseled to do so by insiders, or because supplementary education provides other services which help them to navigate the Japanese educational system. Expatriate families’ use of supplementary education could be one of many acculturation strategies they use as they adapt to Japan’s educational culture.


Supplementary education Expatriate Japan 



The author would like to thank all the participants who gave their time and shared their stories. Without them, this research would not have been possible. Thanks are also due to Dr. Diane Nagatomo of Ochanomizu University and Terry Fellner of Saga University for offering helpful comments and suggestions during the preparation of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Niigata PrefectureNiigata CityJapan

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