A panel of experts advising the education minister on use of Japanese has issued an interim report on how to improve command of the language among elementary and junior high school students.

Featured among the recommendations is utilizing newspapers and plays as tools.

The report was released by the National Language Subcommittee of the Cultural Affairs Council earlier in the week. Although the term of subcommittee members expires early next month, the council says it hopes the new panel members will use the interim report as the basis for further deliberations and come up with a final report within a year.

Describing the Japanese language as the core of all teaching activities, the subcommittee emphasized the need to improve command of Japanese, especially starting at the elementary school level.

The report says schools should improve students’ ability to write and present reports on all subjects being studied.

Possible steps include writing so-called information essays, which would require students to read, summarize and comment on newspaper articles throughout junior high school.

Another measure would be to incorporate plays into the curriculum, as performing demands the ability of mutual communication.

Reciting the “Hyakunin Isshu,” a collection of 100 classic poems, was also deemed desirable as a way to enhance familiarity with Japanese classics from an early age.

The panel of experts said families and local authorities should be aware of how the Japanese language is used in everyday life.

The report covers two key areas.

The first features processing and handling information, which require students to think, perceive and communicate in Japanese.

The second area features the need to enrich students’ knowledge and sensitivity toward the language, as such qualities form the basis of information processing activities, the panel said.

An earlier draft drawn up by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, which serves as the secretariat of the subcommittee, listed the spirit of Bushido, the ancient moral code for samurai, and patriotism as “feelings human beings ought to learn” through the study of literature, along with qualities such as courage and sincerity.

The draft said students need to establish and maintain “awareness as Japanese” in an increasingly globalized world.

The entries of Bushido and patriotism were dropped from the latest report, after some panel members considered them not germane to the topic and expressed concern that these terms may be misunderstood as an attempt to homogenize Japanese society.

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