Coalition treads careful patriot line

Senior lawmakers of the ruling bloc compiled an interim report Wednesday on planned revisions to the Fundamental Law of Education, referring to patriotism with two carefully chosen words.

A panel featuring the secretaries general, policy chiefs and other senior members of the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition ally, New Komeito, centered its debate on how to refer to patriotism.

New Komeito, backed by the nation’s largest lay Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai, was worried that the word patriotism would invoke images of Japan’s military past.

In response to the concern, lawmakers agreed to use two terms in the elements referring to patriotism in the interim report.

One term is “love,” which was used when saying that one of the purposes of education is “to respect traditional culture, love one’s hometown and country, and cultivate attitudes to contribute to the peace of the international community.”

The second version uses “treasure” in place of “love.”

The report also specifies that loving or treasuring one’s country never means the government.

The ruling bloc will discuss further expressions before the final report is submitted to the government, the participating lawmakers said.