The Lower House approved creation of a special committee Thursday to discuss a proposed change to the 1947 basic education law that would lay greater emphasis on civic mindedness and Japanese traditions.

The 45-member committee, to be headed by former Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama, was approved by the ruling coalition — the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito — during a Lower House plenary session.

The ruling parties want to discuss the legislation starting next Tuesday. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and other key ministers are scheduled to attend the next plenary session to brief Lower House members on the proposed changes.

Opposition parties, which are critical of the legislation, say this schedule does not allow sufficient time for debate.

The ruling parties believe they will have to extend the regular Diet session that runs through June 18 to secure passage of the bill.

The Fundamental Law of Education, considered the “educational constitution,” took effect in 1947.

While the bill retains the current law’s wording of “on the basis of the spirit of the Constitution” in its preamble, it adds calls for “public spirit and respect for tradition,” and a newly defined idea of “patriotism” in one article.

The bill defines patriotism as “an attitude that respects tradition and culture, loves the nation and homeland that have fostered them, respects other countries and contributes to international peace and development.”

The current law’s preamble says Japan’s education must respect individual dignity, aim to foster people who aspire to truth and peace, and seek universal and unique culture.

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