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How do you teach a child right from wrong? I certainly don’t have all the answers. In our home, we’re still working on why you can’t hit your brother, even when he’s being deliberately annoying — as he has been all this week, answering any direct question with nonsense (“What do you want for dinner?” “Patio furniture!”). I felt like socking him too.

It is not easy to guide children’s ethical development, but the Japanese government is making a concerted effort. Like every other schoolchild in Japan, my younger son, who is in fourth grade at a public elementary school, receives moral instruction once a week. It’s a separate subject with its own curriculum and textbook.

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