School goals: patriotism and ‘tough’ Japanese

A government advisory panel on education has compiled draft amendments to the Fundamental Law of Education that call for nurturing children’s patriotism, morals and respect for Japanese culture, according to sources familiar with the panel’s discussions.

The Central Council for Education plans to hold subcommittee discussions on the draft on Oct. 24 before determining a rough plan on Oct. 30 for its interim report on the proposed amendments, the sources said on Wednesday.

The draft is to review the current 1947 “education constitution,” which emphasizes individual self-esteem and independence of children.

The draft says Japan’s education should aim to foster “tough” Japanese. It also calls for a new basic education law that would address the importance of education at home, lifetime education, and social volunteer work, according to the sources.

The draft does not say anything about changing the law’s preamble, which sets out the Constitution’s antiwar stance, or anything about reviewing Japan’s ban on religious education in public schools. The panel has not reached a consensus, the sources said.

The ministry earlier said it hopes to submit a bill to the Diet in 2003 that would amend the law after receiving suggestions from the council.

On Nov. 26, 2001, Atsuko Toyama, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, asked the panel to recommend within a year whether it thought the law should be revised.

She told the council at that time to consider recommendations made in December 2000 by the National Commission on Educational Reform, a private advisory panel to then Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

Mori’s panel proposed revisions focusing on points such as scientific and technological advancement, international coexistence, environmental problems, family education, respect for traditional culture, religious education and the need for a basic education promotion plan.