The Diet began debating a bill Tuesday that would revise the postwar basic education law for the first time ever, emphasizing the importance of public spirit and tradition as well as seeking to instill a sense of patriotism.

Conservative groups have long called for changes to the 1947 law, which they say fails to cultivate these values, while opponents argue revising the law may lead to a revival of the virulent nationalism that led Japan to war.

Although the bill has the support of the ruling coalition, the current Diet session, which ends June 18, would have to be extended to get the bill passed during this term.

The 18-article bill would amend the Fundamental Law of Education, which was put into effect in 1947 to instill the ideals of the Constitution.

While the bill retains wording that requires education to be conducted “on the basis of the spirit of the Constitution” as in the current preamble, it adds calls for public spiritedness and respect for tradition, along with development of patriotism as a goal of education.

Patriotism is redefined under the bill, which calls for developing “an attitude that respects tradition and culture and loves the nation and homeland that have fostered them, respects other countries and contributes to international peace and development.”

The preamble of the current education law says education must respect individual dignity, aim to foster people who will aspire to truth and peace, and seek both universal and unique culture.

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