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Education Minister Nobutaka Machimura told an advisory panel Wednesday to come up with concrete recommendations on mandatory community service by elementary through high school students.

The Central Education Council was also told to make suggestions about another part of the controversial plan that would require young people over 18 to engage in community services for limited periods of time.

Machimura, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, wants the resulting recommendations on measures to achieve four ends — promote community services by children and youths, improve the licensing of educators, reform the higher-education system and promote children’s health.

On March 13, the government submitted to the Diet amendments to the School Education Law to add a clause stipulating that elementary, junior high and high schools must provide more opportunities for students to participate in social services, nature activities and other field activities. The ministry hopes the bill will clear the house by the end of the current Diet session on June 29.

In response to Wednesday’s request by the education minister, the council will work out concrete measures to activate volunteer and community services by students.

The panel will also study a framework to promote community service in various fields, including mandatory community work by young adults.

The community work proposals were put forth in December by the National Commission on Educational Reform, a private advisory panel to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

In a speech Wednesday at a meeting of the council, which is chaired by Keio University President Yasuhiko Torii, Machimura said he plans to send another request to the panel asking it to make a recommendation on whether to amend the 1947 Fundamental Law of Education. Government officials said he is likely to make the request in June.

In its final report issued in December, the commission urged the government to review the basic education law and adapt Japan’s educational agenda to changes resulting from globalization and technological innovation.

The ministry’s “education renewal plan” for the 21st century urged the education council to wrap up debate on volunteer work by the end of March 2002.

However, the plan did not set a deadline for the council’s discussions on the revision of the basic education law.

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