Two articles on Japanese education: Here and Here.
One thing I have noted in Japan is that, from the pre-school level on, parents and teachers would rather grab children's hand and pull them through the education process and shove them out the other end. It is one reason that the bad kids at my school seldom respond to anything that isn't over the top. They don't have to deal with making choices and having consequences. The only big consequence is the test to get into high school and a good number of people just opt out of that system. People used to laugh at me when I said that one of my favorite parts about teaching at pre-school was when I made kids cry. I sounded terrible. But telling a kid that they can't come to class if they can't act nice is an important step for them. The crying about it and pitching a fit is a way for them to work it out with themselves. When another adult just picks them up and puts them back in class and constatnly moves them around, they aren't making any choices for themselves. That produces students like Kimura, the moron, who walks into the office, yells at the teachers, kicks thing, and when I tell her to stop all she can say is , "Stop talking. I hate you." I think kids have to try and fail on their own repeatedly at many things, whether it be walking or taking tests. They have to figure out what works for them and what doesn't. If you just pull them along, all they do is sit around and wait for someone to do something for them or yell at them until they do it. Of course, so much pressure is put on teachers in Japan to meet the demands of the result based system that letting a child fail to teach them a lesson is unthinkable. The anecdote about the teachers helping kids over obstacles during a race so that they could keep to the schedule is a metaphor for so much.