The education ministry's Textbook Authorization Research Council on Dec. 20 endorsed the ministry's new standard for screening school textbooks after holding just two sessions. Such hasty approval of the standard is deplorable and suggests that the Abe administration is seeking to strengthen its intervention in education so it can impose its views on students.

The education ministry's new standard seems to reflect a statement in the Diet in April by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the textbook screening system has failed to incorporate the spirit of the revised fundamental law of education, which stresses the importance of nurturing love of the nation and one's native place. The law was revised in 2006 under the first Abe administration.

The new standard says that textbooks that include "grave defects" when checked against education goals specified by the law will not be approved. The law's education goals covers a variety of things such as knowledge and culture, autonomy, equality, justice, responsibility and aesthetic sentiments as well as love of the nation and one's native place.