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Two irreconcilable views of patriotism were given their classic expressions by two Englishmen: Lord Byron, the poet (1788-1824), and Dr. Johnson, the lexicographer and jack-of-all-literary-trades (1709-84). Byron said, “He who loves not his country can love nothing.” And Johnson: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s patriotism is unabashed and fervent. He is doing all in his very considerable power to transmit it, via education, to the nation at large. His first stint as prime minister produced a revision to the Fundamental Law of Education in 2006 that charges schools with cultivating in children “an attitude that respects tradition and culture, and loves the nation and homeland that have fostered them.” He vowed at the time to “push ahead with education rebuilding that will … nurture people with vision and hope and build a dignified and beautiful country.”

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