Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Japanese schools to indoctrinate children

In two ways, reported in two Japan Times articles. First, patriotism is going to be written into the national curriculum, secondly, a far-right 'historian' has been appointed to the education board of Saitama, a prefecture near Tokyo.
The first article reports remarks by Shinzo Abe:

Shinzo Abe, deputy secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, said Monday that patriotism should be clearly stated in the revised Fundamental Law of Education.

"It is only natural for a person who is brought up in Japan to love the country," he said. "Why can't we write it" into law?

"The spirit in which (Japanese) have held on so lovingly to the Constitution and the Fundamental Law of Education, which were created when we were occupied by the Allied forces and before we became independent, only proves that we are still under the mind control of the Occupation forces," Abe said, referring to the 1945-1952 U.S.-led Allied Occupation of Japan.

A panel of the LDP and its coalition ally, New Komeito, has been working on ways to refer to patriotism in the education law, stirring public concerns over a possible revival of nationalism, as seen under the nation's military rule before and during World War II.

In June, the panel compiled an interim report that used two alternate expressions to refer to patriotism. One used the phrase "love one's country" and the other used "treasure one's country."

The second article covers the appointment of Takahashi Shiro to the Saitama prefecture board of education.

The Saitama Prefectural Government will nominate to its board of education one of the authors of a controversial history textbook criticized for having a nationalist bias, it was learned Monday.

Shiro Takahashi, a Meisei University professor and former deputy chairman of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, has agreed to take up the post at the request of Saitama Gov. Kiyoshi Ueda.

The governor will make the recommendation to the prefectural assembly Dec. 20.

Takahashi would be the first senior member of the group that penned the contentious textbook to sit on a prefectural education panel, according to group members.

Ueda and Takahashi are acquaintances, and the governor asked the professor to join the panel in October, according to the scholar, who added that he replied that he was willing to accept.

Takahashi was a founding member of the textbook group and was its deputy chairman from 1999 to last month, when he quit because he "would be required to be neutral as a member of an education board," he said.

But Takahashi added that he does not intend to leave the group.

In September, Ueda praised the group's history textbook, calling it a "new exercise that stimulates the education community as a whole."

The textbook, published by Fuso Publishing Co., has been criticized for lacking a reference to "comfort women," and for portraying World War II in the Pacific theater as a war "aimed at liberating other Asian countries."

During the war, Japan used a large number of women, mostly from Korea, as sex slaves for its soldiers.

The textbook passed the education ministry screening in April 2001, adding fuel to a fierce domestic debate on how Japan's history should be portrayed in school texts.

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