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Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, already on record as declaring Japan “a divine nation with the Emperor at its center,” was back on the subject of religion on Friday.

“A sense of religion should be taught at schools,” he said.

In describing the importance of religious education, Mori mentioned two proverbs:

* “If you lie, the devil will pick your tongue.”

* “If you waste paper, you will be forced to cross a paper bridge in hell.”

He then recalled his own school days and said: “Children learned social rules by hearing such things.”

But, he noted, nowadays schoolteachers hesitate to teach “religion” because they believe it is a bad thing.

He also said religion must not be forced on anyone and each individual’s beliefs must not be infringed on.

The remarks came during an interview for a government-funded television show.

His “divine nation” comment in May invited a barrage of criticism and contributed to an electoral setback suffered by his Liberal Democratic Party in Lower House elections the following month.

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