• The Associated Press

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News photo
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi speaks to a Lower House panel debating the
revision to the education law.


Koizumi said the criticism is based on a “contorted view.”
“We are not intending a law that would draw us into war. The bill – heavy importance on an education suitable to a new era and is aimed at nurturing admirable manpower for the benefit of Japan,” he told a special parliamentary committee.

The bill — drafted by the ruling coalition and approved by the Cabinet on April 28 — is a longtime goal of the conservatives, who have been eager to instill greater national pride in young people. It is being criticized by the left-leaning Japan Teachers’ Union, which has accused the ruling bloc of not being open enough when discussing the bill.

The revision would add a provision requiring educators to foster “love of the nation and homeland and respect for its tradition and culture.” The changes, which also stress the importance of public morality and lifelong learning, would be the first to the 1947 Fundamental Law of Education.

Teaching patriotism has been largely taboo since the country’s disastrous wartime defeat, and has been long opposed by the teacher union.

Critics of the bill also say the revision would further damage ties with China and South Korea, where Japan’s wartime legacy is bitterly remembered.

The Hinomaru flag and “Kimigayo,” the anthem to the Emperor, were approved as Japan’s official symbols in 1998 despite protests over their association with wartime militarism. Tokyo is now leading a nationwide crackdown on school resistors.