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The recent revelation that the government has manipulated the process of promoting education reform raises the basic question of whether the government is morally qualified for education-related administration at a time when the Diet is discussing a bill to revise the Fundamental Law of Education.

The bill’s aim of instilling love of nation in children threatens to impose on them the government’s view of the correct attitude toward the Japanese nation. Article 16 of the bill, which in part says that education should be carried out according to stipulations in not only the basic law but also other laws, causes another concern. Although it says education should not be subject to improper control, it could lead to unlimited government control of education through enactment of any education-related legislation sought by the government.

Recently it was learned that the government rigged a government-sponsored town meeting for education reform held in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, on Sept. 2.

In August, the Cabinet Office had asked the Hachinohe Board of Education to choose people who would be the first ones to enliven discussions with questions. The board reported the names and questions of four people to the office, which then forwarded the information to the education ministry. Since these four hardly touched on the revision issue, the board, at the office’s request, chose three more people. Then the ministry wrote three questions in support of the government’s move to revise the law and forwarded them to the board. One question read in part: “I strongly empathize with the revision bill’s stress on the importance of a public-oriented mind . . .”

The office even advised questioners to avoid giving the impression that they were reading text. Two people chosen by the board attended the meeting — as did then Education Minister Kenji Kosaka — and phrased their questions according to the script.

Several other meetings also were found to have been rigged. Could one, then, be blamed for supposing that the ministry and the government would do anything to manipulate public opinion?

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