Two recent articles in The Japan Times reported on the government’s decision to teach ethics in elementary and junior high schools, and to revise textbooks in order to “instill a sense of national pride in students.”

With the Abe administration’s desires to revise the Constitution, specifically Article 9, and also reduce the focus on individual rights, one questions whether the proposed ethics curriculum is really designed to reduce bullying, as the article stated, or if it is an attempt by conservatives and nationalists in the LDP to resurrect the concept of the kokutai (national essence), or to eventually see a return to a standardized moral textbook such as the “Kokutai no Hongi,” which was banned by the Occupation.

While the article on the history texts cited the “self-condemning” view of historical events such as the Nanjing Massacre and the issue of wartime sex slaves, no mention was made of Unit 731 under the leadership of Shiro Ishii. It is the opinion of this writer that all of the wartime actions pale in comparison to the chemical and biological warfare conducted by Unit 731 and its sister units, or the morally questionable medical experiments on human captives from 1932 until the end of the war. No other ethical issue is as important in Japanese history, and one suspects that the deaths of human guinea pigs by Unit 731 will not even warrant a mention in the revised textbooks, despite the government’s claim of wanting “a balanced picture” of historical events.

Ethics and morality are the fundamental laws of any society, but it all depends on what these teachings are based on.

From The Japan Times Online


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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