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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 October 3 - 9  > Education Minister in right-leaning new Abe Cabinet supports 1890 Rescript on Education
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2018 October 3 - 9 [POLITICS]

Education Minister in right-leaning new Abe Cabinet supports 1890 Rescript on Education

October 4, 2018
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Education Minister Shibayama Masahiko, who was appointed by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo as a minister for the first time in his career in the latest Cabinet reshuffle, in his first press conference said that the Imperial Rescript on Education includes contents which are recognized as bearing universalities and that in this context, they can be used for moral education today by giving new interpretations. He also cited a call for teaching a modernized version of the rescript to students and said that it is worth considering. The rescript was a pillar of militaristic education in pre-war and wartime Japan. Shibayama just after becoming the head of the education authority suggested the possibility of resurrecting the outdated text in a modified form. This is highly controversial.

The Imperial Education Rescript is a document that was issued in 1890 in which the Emperor outlined the basic principles in regard to education.

The essence of the rescript is shown in the accounts stating that "should emergency arise, offer yourselves courageously to the State; and thus guard and maintain the prosperity of Our Imperial Throne coeval with heaven and earth". In short, the document was aimed at teaching students that they should be willing to die for the Emperor at any moment. In school in the pre-war and wartime era, students were inculcated with the ideas of the rescript and the sense of loyalty to the Emperor and the Empire. Based on this teaching, many young people were mobilized in the war of aggression which claimed the lives of Japanese people and other countries' people.

Education Minister Shibayama, who is a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, argues that universality can be seen in some part of the rescript. In the past, many LDP parliamentarians, including those who served as Cabinet ministers, made similar remarks. Although some of the ideas stated in the rescript—such as "be filial to your parents"—may appear to be a universal virtue, they were intrinsically connected to an absolute and self-sacrificing devotion to the Emperor.

In 1948, three years after Imperial Japan's surrender in WWII, the Imperial Education Rescript was officially abolished because it goes directly against the principles of the post-war Constitution, with the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors each adopting resolutions nullifying the edict. The Lower House's resolution pointed out that the rescript evidently tramples on basic human rights and works to erode the international community's trust in Japan. Coming up with new interpretations of the rescript will not change the document's authoritarian nature. Shibayama claims that the rescript attaches importance to international cooperation and that this part can be adapted and taught to students in a form appropriate to modern-day education. The document, which was used to promote the war of aggression, is totally inappropriate as teaching material to support the importance of international harmony. Shibayama's remark pays no regard to historical facts and is utterly nonsensical.

Shibayama's qualification to be Education Minister is being called into question. PM Abe said he wants Shibayama, one of his closest aides, to revitalize the education administration. Abe should be blamed for the appalling appointment.

Past related articles:
> DM Inada calls for revival of wartime Imperial Rescript on Education [March 9& 10, 2017]
> What was the prewar Imperial Rescript on Education? [June 16, 2014]

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