Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Wednesday denied criticism that the bill for revising the education law to teach “love of the nation” and other patriotic themes will promote militarism.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi speaks to a Lower House panel debating the
revision to the education law.
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.