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What's the 'Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi)'?

"The last Diet session seemed to be hijacked by the 'Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi)'," said Tawara Yoshifumi, the secretary general of a citizens' organization called "Children and Textbook Japan Network 21," who listened to the Diet deliberations on the bills to adversely revise the Fundamental Law of Education, one submitted by the ruling parties and the other by the Democratic Party of Japan.

In the committee meetings without TV cameras, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker praised the prewar Imperial Rescript on Education that had advocated shedding blood for the Emperor, and a Democratic Party lawmaker distributed copies of the modern translation of the rescript. Another DPJ member emphasized the need to preserve the "national polity."

These lawmakers proudly declared, "I am a member of the Japan Conference."

Eighteen out of 45 members of the House of Representatives Special Committee on the Fundamental Law of Education set up in the last Diet session belong to both or either one of the two parliamentarians' leagues established by the Japan Conference.

One is called the Japan Conference Dietmembers' council, which was established in 1997, the same year the Japan Conference was founded. Composed of some 200 Dietmembers, the council has engaged in such campaigns as the adverse revision of the Constitution and the Education Law, the overseas dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces, and the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Emperor's reign.

The other is called the committee to promote the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education, established at the annual meeting of the Japan Conference Dietmembers' council in 2004 in order to focus their efforts on the revision of the Education Law. 378 Dietmembers reportedly joined this committee.

In both Dietmembers' leagues, a number of the members of the two major parties, the LDP and the DPJ, take part.

Among the cabinet ministers who responded to questions on the bills to adversely revise the Education Law, Education Minister Kosaka Kenji and Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe Shinzo belong to the Japan Conference Dietmembers' council.

The Japan Conference was established in 1997 as a result of the merger of a rightist movement called the National Conference to Defend Japan, mainly made up of scholars and intellectuals, and a rightist religious organization called the Association to Defend Japan.

In 2000, the Japan Conference was represented by leaders of the Association of Shinto Shrines (joined by about 80,000 shrines), the Buddhist sect Bussho-Gonenkai, the Japan War-Bereaved Families Association, the Shinto Political League, and Yasukuni Shrine. Its prospectus calls for respecting the Imperial House, enacting a new Constitution, and promoting history education to foster love for the nation.

The conference has been promoting the exhibition of Yushukan (Yasukuni Shrine's military museum) exhibition panels glorifying Japan's war of aggression in WWII in cities across Japan. In 2003, it launched the campaign in opposition to the peace organizations' movement of exhibition on the realities of war.

Last year, the conference conducted a campaign to organize as many as 200,000 people visiting Yasukuni Shrine on August 15 that marked the 60th anniversary of the end of war, and now requests Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro to openly make an official visit to the shrine on that day.

Tawara said, "Both the LDP and the DPJ are strongly influenced by Japan Conference members. This reminds me of the prewar Imperial Rule Assistance Association. The discussion on the bills to revise the Fundamental Law of Education needs to be in compliance with the present Constitution, but these lawmakers assume that the Constitution will be revised without fail."

A number of LDP and DPJ Dietmembers are involved in such organizations. This is the reality of the Japanese political climate.
- Akahata Sunday edition, July 9, 2006

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