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On the basis of the Central Council of Education’s October report, the education ministry has revised the course of study at elementary and junior high schools to introduce moral education as an official subject beginning in fiscal 2018 and 2019, respectively. The ministry stresses that the focus of moral education, which has been taught since 1958 as an informal subject, should change from reading of related materials to teachings that encourage thinking and discussion by schoolchildren.

The revised course of study also says that moral education should not lead to imposing certain ways of thinking on the schoolchildren. However, a close examination of the plan reveals contradictions and problems. Grading of the students in moral education — even in descriptive forms — carries the inherent risk of casting children’s ways of thinking into a mold.

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