The ruling bloc's majority held sway Wednesday as the House of Councilors voted in a package of education reform bills, accomplishing a key goal of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and foiling the opposition's last-ditch effort to halt their enactment.
The education bills, backed by the Liberal Democratic Party and coalition partner New Komeito, mainly aim to increase the central government’s control over teachers and schools.
The LDP rammed the government-sponsored education bills and other bills through the Lower House recently in an effort to underline Abe’s initiative before the Upper House election in July.
Along with improving the quality of public education, Abe and other conservative LDP politicians have long aimed at revising the School Education Law to foster in young students a sense of patriotism.
The other two bills amend the local education administration law to give more power to the education minister over boards of education, and revise the teacher licensing law, which will require teachers to renew their licenses every 10 years.
Some experts, however, fear the bills may make Japan’s school system more rigid and discourage teachers. They also doubt the bills will help improve the quality of public education.
Earlier in the day, the opposition parties submitted motions demanding the resignations of the chairmen of two committees to protest the coalition’s railroading of the bills without due deliberation.
The ruling bloc hopes to pass other bills in the current Diet session, including one to reform the troubled Social Insurance Agency and one to clamp down “amakudari,” the practice of retiring bureaucrats landing cushy posts in industries they once oversaw.
To this end, the coalition plans to extend the Diet session through July 5 and delay the July 22 poll until July 29.
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