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2014 May 14 - 20 [EDUCATION]

Bill to strengthen political control over education passed through Diet committee

May 17, 2014
A Lower House committee on education on May 16 approved by a majority vote of the ruling parties a bill to revise the existing education board system which will open the way for strengthening political control and influence over education at the local level.

Teachers, education specialists, and concerned citizens are expressing their strong concerns over the bill. In an opinion poll, 75% of respondents pointed out the need for rules restricting politicians from interfering in education.

The bill enables local government heads to draw up a basic policy of education administration which is currently determined by local education boards.

Education Minister Shimomura Hakubun who glorifies the Imperial Rescript on Education, a pillar of militaristic pre-war education, made a remark regarding the bill that municipal heads can be allowed to intrude on education content. This indicates the possibility of limitless interference over education by local administrations. If the bill is enacted, for example, local government heads will be able to establish a basic education policy emphasizing patriotism as a purpose of education and request local education commissions to select school textbooks in line with this policy.

The current education board system was established to protect the independence and autonomy of education based on lessons learned from the pre-war education system which instilled in children militarism and encouraged people to sacrifice themselves for the country.

The Abe government’s intent to enhance control over education will make Japan a nation capable of fighting wars abroad, trample on constitutional freedom and autonomy of education, and bring back the pre-war education ideology.
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