• Ogata-mura, Akita

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Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talks about building a “beautiful country,” he seems intent on making the country appear so without actual change. Recently Abe’s education advisory committee recommended compulsory “volunteer work” for all high school students. According to my dictionary, a “volunteer” is a person who performs a service of his own free will. If it is not the student’s own conscience that draws him/her to volunteer work, then it should be called something else. Can’t we at least call forced activities of this sort what they are — “social trainee activities” or “practical citizen mind-set training”? Such activities may be very important to the school curriculum in developing considerate citizens, but they’re not about volunteering.

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