The Cabinet Office apologized Tuesday for telling the Hachinohe board of education in Aomori Prefecture to plant people in a town meeting who would make remarks in support of a controversial government bill to revise the education law.
Cabinet Office officials also revealed during a Diet committee meeting that the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, which administers the education law, had written out questions and statements for those people to use at the Sept. 2 meeting.
The board enlisted three people, two of whom spoke at the meeting, using the ministry’s prepared remarks.
“It is extremely regrettable that such a thing happened that could undermine people’s trust in town meetings,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki told a news conference.
“This happened because people in the field went too far. . . . As town meetings are a precious opportunity for local people and the Cabinet to communicate, we would like to continue and improve them.”
Shiozaki also said that the Cabinet Office may have sent similar requests to local governments for other town meetings on education reform.
The revelation comes as the Diet is holding final deliberations on the bill to revise the Fundamental Law of Education.
One of the points of contention is a clause saying that patriotism must be fostered in students.
The Cabinet Office said it would consider investigating whether there were any other cases of plants at any of the other 174 town meetings held during Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s term in office.
The Cabinet Office said the education ministry told it Aug. 22 that it would put together sample questions for participants “to spur active discussions” on revising the Fundamental Law of Education at the Hachinohe meeting.
The ministry forwarded the questions to the Cabinet Office on Aug. 30.
The Cabinet Office sent the document on to the Hachinohe board of education without any changes.
Three people were then chosen and told to say some of the comments on the document at the town meeting, according to a Cabinet Office report.
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