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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 February 29 - March 6  > Osaka’s education ordinance forces control and competition (Part 1)
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2012 February 29 - March 6 [EDUCATION]

Osaka’s education ordinance forces control and competition (Part 1)

March 2, 2012
Osaka Governor Matsui Ichiro, member of Osaka’s local party “Osaka Ishin-no-Kai”, submitted bills pertaining to the fundamental ordinance on education to the Osaka Prefectural Assembly on February 23. The original bill the party had proposed last September was met by strong public criticism and was declared by the central government to be “unlawful.” Although the bill was slightly revised, it is basically the same bill. The party, led by Osaka City Mayor Hashimoto Toru, notorious for his attempted compulsory survey on municipal workers’ political beliefs, even advocates introduction of a similar law at the national level in its manifesto for the next general election.

On February 26, a meeting to support the education ordinance was held in Osaka City by an ultra-conservative education group called Nippon Kyoiku Saisei Kiko (Japan Educational Revival Organization). Osaka Governor Matsui shared the stage with former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (Liberal Democratic Party) who spoke of the need for a “departure from the post-war regime” and then went on to praise the proposed ordinance for sharing “the same course with us.”

The democratic ideals of postwar education, which Abe and the “Yasukuni faction” he belongs to criticize, was born out of people’s sincere reflection on the militarist education imposed during WWII. At the core of postwar education principles was a conviction that education should be provided for the interest of students with the government refraining from controlling education. The Fundamental Law of Education (1947) was an embodiment of such ideals.

Even though this Fundamental Law was adversely revised under the Abe government in 2006, there is an important court ruling that restricts central and local governments from intervening in education.

This is the 1974 Supreme Court judgment on the imposition of a national academic achievement test. It stated that education is not a power of authorities but the responsibility of adults to ensure children’s right to study. It rejected any regressive moves toward a nationalistic education as stipulated in the constitution.

The ruling also defined the relationship between government and education. The Supreme Court reaffirmed the autonomy of teachers, stating that teachers should not be forced to have particular opinions by public authorities and that teachers should have a certain degree of autonomy in regard to education content and methods used because education is conducted through personal interaction between teachers and children.

However, education is also a national endeavor. The Supreme Court did not completely deny government intervention but stated there should be restraint due to the fact that the majoritarian decision-making procedure under multi-party politics contains the danger of education coming under excessive political influence. This danger, it stated, is applicable to local governments as well as the central government.

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