About Us

○ Our Activities

Our activities

Promoting ECEC Research and Survey
We promote research, in particular, on ECEC quality and outcomes. We also participate in international survey in partnership with international organizations, such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Building a Research Network
We build a strong research network with various research institutes including universities both in Japan and overseas, international organizations such as the OECD, local governments, kindergartens, nursery centers, centers for ECEC, ECEC associations, and other private think tanks.

Disseminating Research Findings
We disseminate research findings and other relevant research information to multiple types and levels of ECEC actors, ranging from local governments to various levels of ECEC stakeholders in Japan and internationally, via our website or at conferences and symposiums.

○ Background

The Rationale

There has been a growing awareness of the importance of ECEC as part of education policy both in Japan and internationally. However, little research-based evidence has been generated and used in ECEC policy development in Japan. Hence, a strong need for our nation to engage more in ECEC research to help to realize evidence-based policy development and to strengthen the ECEC research environment by establishing a national center dedicated to ECEC research.


  • To conduct policy research to inform policy development alongside foundational research from a medium to a long-term perspective;
  • To take lead in coordination with other relevant research institutions for advancing research stably and for the long term;
  • To cooperate with universities, local governments, ECEC associations, and private think tanks while respecting their respective strengths and roles/mandates;
  • To play a central role in the ECEC research networks in Japan and link to local “ECEC Centers” nationwide;
  • To collect, compile, and disseminate national/international research trends and findings; and
  • To participate in international ECEC research networks and research projects as the national representative from Japan.

○ Message from the Director

Early Childhood Education Research Center (ECERC) was newly established under the National Institute for Educational Policy Research (NIER) in April 2016. This is in response to an increased recognition of the importance of ECEC, as a growing body of research evidence showing positive impact of high quality ECE on children’s academic skills and success later in life. In August 2015, the “Committee for Preparation and Establishment of a National ECEC Research Study Hub” (chaired by Takashi MUTO, Professor, Department of Early Childhood Education and Care, Shiraume Gakuen University (at that time) ) was set up under the MEXT. The Committee was comprised of representatives from the MEXT as well as the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) and the Cabinet Office. It discussed various issues ranging from the mission and objectives to expected research activities, which has been then documented in the official report.

According to the report, 3 activities were identified. The first is to carry out research on the themes around scales to evaluate ECEC quality, finding children’s developmental outcome, and the long-term effects of early childhood education in school and later life, etc. It is also envisaged that the ECERC would participate in research projects across counties in partnership with international organizations such as OECD. The second activity is to serve a role as the research study network hub in Japan, by building a research network with concerned government ministries, local municipal governments, local and international universities and research institutions, private think tanks, kindergartens, nursery centers, centers for ECEC, and so on. The third activity is to disseminate up-to-date research findings to a wide range of ECEC actors, including but not limited to preschool teachers and parents.

We are much delighted to begin our best effort and fulfill these mission and objectives as stipulated in the report. In particular, we will focus on building a network to facilitate effective cooperation with concerned organizations and individuals and producing research that can be used not only for policy development, but also in field practices. As we have just started a new endeavor, we ask for your kind support to and understating of the ECERC.

1 April, 2016

Director of Early Childhood Education Research Center (ECERS), NIER

○ Messages from the Senior Fellows

Takashi MUTO

MUTO Takashi
Professor Emeritus, Shiraume Gakuen University

The establishment of a national research center on early childhood education has been the ardent desire of many fellow practitioners and researchers in Japan. There is a need to examine empirically the effectiveness of ECEC programmes in the context of Japan. In so doing, we need to quantify various aspects of ‘quality’ in ECEC, including practitioners’ intervention processes and program environment, in order to discern how and what ECEC offering would facilitate (or not) children’s development. There is much to do! I hope this center will produce meaningful and high quality research and fulfill the expectations of the people in Japan.

Kiyomi AKITA

AKITA Kiyomi
 Professor, Faculty of Letters, Gakushuin University

Giving a birth to the ECERC this year is epoch-making as 2016 marks the 140th anniversary of the first kindergarten opened in Japan! Our nation has fostered a number of ECE curricula independently developed at the local level and high quality exemplary practices for such. I envisage that the ECERC will become the central platform for ECEC research in Japan, by compiling and sharing such resource information, by effectively cooperating with local ECEC Centers, and by coordinating with international organizations, universities and other institutions dedicated to ECEC. Finally, I anticipate that the ECERC will be the place that produces evidence-based educational policy research toward higher quality ECEC.


Specially Appointed Professor, Osaka University of Comprehensive Children Education

I expect that the ECERC will grow into a research information hub that offers various types and levels of research-based knowledge necessary for effective policy development for quality improvement, ranging from ECEC practices and research findings both in Japan and overseas to case examples of local efforts by respective municipalities. As such, it is necessary for the ECERC, as the national network hub, to collect, compile and disseminate information from the perspectives of the past, the present and in anticipation of the future of ECEC and to cooperate with ECEC concerned actors, including administrative bodies and research institutions, academic or professional associations, teachers training universities, etc.

○ Research Staff


TAMURA Toshihiro

Deputy Director・Senior Researcher


Senior Researcher



YAZAKI Keiichiro

Senior Specialist

IWAKI Yukiko

Specialist(International Examination)


Assistant Administartive Staff


Contact Us:youji@nier.go.jp

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