The education law must be overhauled to nurture strong, spiritually rich and more patriotic Japanese, according to a report released Thursday by the Central Education Council.

The interim report submitted to Atsuko Toyama, the education, culture, sports, science and technology minister, stresses the importance of fostering patriotism and respect for Japanese tradition and culture.

Japan “lacks a balance between freedom and responsibility, rights and obligations, and the self and the public, and a sense of ethics is neglected,” the interim report says.

While acknowledging the importance of such principles as truth, peace and individual dignity as listed in the 1947 Fundamentals of Education Law, the council finds the law lacking in regard to patriotism, morals and respect for tradition and culture.

Social norms must be emphasized and family responsibilities included in a revision of the law, the report said.

The existing law aims at realizing the principles of Japan’s postwar Constitution and emphasizes the individual. It is the only basic postwar law that has not been revised.

The report lists suggestions, such as nurturing a gender-equal society, reforming the university system and promoting collaboration among schools, communities and families.

The council also proposed a basic, five-year plan aimed at halving bullying and school violence.

The education ministry and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party want to submit amendments to the law to the ordinary Diet session next year, but New Komeito — one of the two junior partners in the ruling bloc, remains cautious about the movement.

Analysts expressed fear that the proposed revisions would strengthen the government’s influence on the education system by weakening the principle of respect for individuals, which was proclaimed to make a break with Japan’s prewar militaristic education system.

Some observers said the law’s principle of “education for the individual and not the country” has already been challenged by the government’s decision to make the display and use of Japan’s recently approved national flag and anthem mandatory in public schools.

The council will hold public hearings on the issue at five locations, including in Tokyo and Fukuoka, and consider the opinions of educators. A final report will be drafted as early as next spring.

The council said conclusions on revising the preamble to the education law and issues regarding religious education will also be included in the final report.

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