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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

DPJ submits its own education bill


Staff writer

The Democratic Party of Japan submitted its own bill to revise the Fundamental Education Law to the Lower House on Tuesday in an attempt to offer an alternative to the bill proposed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito.

The DPJ legislation, titled the "Fundamental Law of Education of Japan," defines the effort to instill patriotism in students as "cultivating a mind that loves Japan" in its preamble.

"The DPJ believes that patriotism should be something cultivated within each individual naturally, not by force," said Yukio Hatoyama, the party's secretary general.

The controversy over the definition of patriotism first became apparent in discussions about the LDP-sponsored bill within the coalition. LDP stressed that the bill should define patriotism as "a mind that loves the nation," while New Komeito pressed for the phrase "a mind that treasures the nation," arguing that the word "loves" was reminiscent of prewar nationalism.

The two ruling parties, in their version, agreed last month to define patriotism as "cultivating an attitude which respects tradition and culture, loves the nation and homeland that have fostered them, while respecting other countries and contributing to international peace and development" -- which is stated as the aim of education.

Social Democratic Party of Japan leader Mizuho Fukushima issued a statement last week condemning both bills, saying teaching patriotism in school is highly dangerous and could lead to "forbidding criticism against the misjudgments of the state."

Hatoyama defended the DPJ bill, arguing that including the phrase "cultivating a mind that loves Japan" in the preamble underscores that this is a merely a statement of educational principles.

"In the ruling party's bill, (the language on patriotism) is included in the (operative) provisions, which cannot erase the coercive tinge," he said.



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The Japan Times

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