The Literacy Rate in Japan

One of the things that amazed Europeans that arrived in Japan at the end of the Edo period(1603-1867)was that Japanese were highly educated. It was believed that the literacy rate was over 80 percent in cities like Edo (now Tokyo) and Osaka.

The first nationwide literacy test was conducted by GHQ in 1948 during the Occupation period. It tested about 20,000 Japanese men and woman between the ages of 15 and 64 throughout the country. It was found that the rate of literacy was higher than the world and American standards.

The test result was cited as proof that the level of literacy of the majority of prewar Japanese was high, and it dismissed the Occupation policy which claimed for the script reform (Romanization).