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The National Conference on Educational Reforms, an advisory body to the prime minister, held its first meeting in late March. The panel plans to meet twice a month and have a final report in two years; an interim report will be published in six months. It should expedite its discussions, and publish a final report in a year, instead of two years.

National education should aim at fostering morally sound Japanese. Something is wrong with today’s Japanese, and the more education reforms are delayed, the more Japan will be filled with these unsound people. Former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi said he hoped to turn Japan into an affluent and morally sound nation. This cannot be achieved without drastic education reforms.

When the Liberal Democratic Party was established in 1955, its platform called for, among other things: constitutional amendments, the creation of the Self-Defense Forces following the withdrawal of Occupation forces, education reforms and the internationalization of the economy. The LDP has failed to promote educational reforms, which has resulted in moral decay in Japan.

Education during the Occupation was intended to turn the Japanese into weak, lazy people. Education regarding history and morals was neglected.

I doubt if the LDP will take the initiative in major educational reforms, after taking practically no action in the past. Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori must push educational reforms.

First, education reforms should address the issue of the family. In my opinion, most couples today are too assertive with each other. Couples should respect each other’s rights.

Friends should trust and help each other. Primary school pupils should be instructed in how to offer a helping hand to those in trouble. Regrettably, today’s education focuses on ways of winning the rat race and getting into elite universities.

Compulsory education should foster the spirit that allows people to fight the evil and powerful. A favorite phrase among the Japanese used to be “side with the weak and crush the strong,” but the postwar Japanese often ignore the weak and pander to the strong. This is unconscionable. Education should stress selfless love to be given to the underprivileged and the disadvantaged.

Japanese trains have “silver seats” for the elderly and disabled passengers. There were no such seats in prewar days, when young people willingly gave their seats to the disadvantaged. Today, young people occupy silver seats and nap.

People should also learn to be content. Perseverance is important. Fukuzawa Yukichi, a 19th century philosopher-educator and the founder of what is now Keio University, preached the virtue of “endurance for the sake of pride.” Moral classes should be conducted in the first six years of compulsory education.

I also believe that the Japanese education system should be revised so that it will consist of a six-year primary school, five-year middle school, three-year high school and three-year university, instead of the present 6-3-3-4 system.

In Japan, human lives are treated lightly and money worship is rampant. Few practice selfless devotion to others. Schools and homes should foster morals. The National Council on Educational Reforms should focus on this.

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