International services trade, domestic regulations and reforms: The case of tertiary education of Japan

Shintaro Hamanaka (Office of Regional Economic Integration, Asian Development Bank, Metro Manila, Philippines)

Journal of International Trade Law and Policy

ISSN: 1477-0024

Publication date: 6 September 2013

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine obstacles to international services trade in tertiary education. It specifically analyzes Japan's international trade in education from three different angles: status of international transactions of tertiary education services; the restrictions on international education services transactions as well as domestic regulations in education sectors; and the relevancy of domestic regulations in the education sector.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper first argues that obstacles to international education services transactions usually take the form of domestic regulations rather than direct restrictions, using the case study of Japan. Japan is an interesting case to assess since it has a strong desire to regulate the education sector and has been conducting regulatory reforms recently. The paper then considers the relevancy of domestic regulations in Japan's education sector by comparing them against regulations in other sectors where governments also have a strong desire to maintain regulatory powers, such as in legal and banking services.

Findings

While it looks that the Japanese education sector is free from restrictions on international services transactions, domestic regulations are the serious obstacles to trade. Japan's education industry has two principal problems regarding domestic regulations: unclear demarcation between the government and University Council; an emphasis on the restriction on new entrant rather than a smooth solution of “bankruptcy”.

Practical implications

As far as the business operations of foreign universities in Japan are concerned, the emphasis of regulations should be placed on the smooth solution of “bankruptcy” of these universities rather than the restriction of their entry similar to the case of banking sector. It should be also noted that the demarcation between the government and University Council in exercising power is ambiguous. Thus, both parties should maintain transparency in the decision‐making process.

Originality/value

Surprisingly, there are only a few studies that analyze Japan's tertiary education system in terms of the obstacles to international services transactions. This paper is one of the first attempt to examine the status of international transactions of tertiary education services and the restrictions on international education services transactions. It then considers the relevancy of domestic regulations in the education sector in comparison with banking and legal services sectors.

Keywords

Citation

Hamanaka, S. (2013), "International services trade, domestic regulations and reforms: The case of tertiary education of Japan", Journal of International Trade Law and Policy, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 204-225. https://doi.org/10.1108/JITLP-12-2012-0019

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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