National

Ministers back use of prewar imperial rescript as teaching material

Kyodo

Members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet on Tuesday voiced their approval for using the prewar Imperial Rescript on Education as a teaching material, drawing criticism that the government is trying to bring back antiquated values.

While the 1890 edict, which was used to promote Emperor-oriented and militaristic education before and during World War II, was abolished by the Diet in 1948, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference the government should allow for its use “under careful consideration so that it does not violate the Constitution and the basic education law.”

“I see no problem in it being used as a teaching material from the standpoint of teaching historical background and other things,” education minister Hirokazu Matsuno said in a separate news conference.

The remarks follow a government decision Friday that it would not deny the use of the rescript as a teaching material as long as it does not violate the Constitution and the education law, while stating it is inappropriate to use it as the sole foundation of the country’s education.

“It clearly shows the Abe administration’s move to return to prewar values,” said Hiroshi Ogushi, policy chief of the major opposition Democratic Party, referring to the decision.

Suga said during the news conference that the government has “absolutely no intent of heavily using the rescript,” adding that those at schools are the ones who should decide how to educate students while following the country’s curriculum guidelines.

Matsuno also said other materials that are not in line with the Constitution are already included in school textbooks.

“That does not mean they should be eliminated. It’s about what we actually teach,” he said.

The Imperial Rescript of Education has recently drawn public attention after Osaka kindergarten operator Moritomo Gakuen, which is at the heart of a political scandal, was found to have been making its pupils memorize it.

Moritomo Gakuen has come under fire over its purchase of state-owned land at a heavily discounted price and its close ties to Abe’s wife and the defense minister have put the Abe Cabinet on the defensive.