Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo at a news conference in the Diet on May 15 published an appeal opposing the government bill to adversely revise the Fundamental Law of Education. The JCP has set up a task force to help oppose an adverse revision of the Fundamental Law of Education at the JCP Central Committee, with JCP Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi as the head and vice chair Ishii Ikuko as the acting head. The appeal, "Let us foil adverse revision of Fundamental Law of Education by invoking the power of public opinion and the movement calling for chilren's sound development," is as follows:
It is unconstitutional to use the law to force children to be blindly patriotic
The biggest problem of the government bill is that it is aimed at completely changing the fundamental aim of education from one of promoting the "full development of personality" to one of rearing people who conform to national policies.
The government bill calls for a new Article 2 to be added to provide that the aim of education is to impose more than 20 morals, including an attitude that loves the nation, and to oblige schools, teachers, and children to abide by them. This point is further emphasized in the bill's Article 5 (on compulsory education) and Article 6 (on school education). Some of the morals put forward in the bill seem harmless enough, but the question is whether such provisions are allowed to be stipulated in the law in order to enable the government to enforce them, using its own interpretations.
What will happen if a law provides for specific moral values in detail as an aim of education, obliges schools to foster a particular ideology in children, and assesses their achievements? Particular values that the government wants will be imposed on children and their minds will be remoulded by the government. It is clear that this infringes the Constitution's Article 19 that guarantees the freedom of thought and conscience.
Putting emphasis on education to cultivate civic morals in children, the JCP has proposed 10 civic morals, including one that calls for the need "to cultivate true patriotism and friendship with other nations, with no hostility and the despising of other nations." This is the logical consequence of the constitutional principles of peace and democracy, which are also provided for by the Fundamental Law of Education. It should also be pursued in the voluntary process of education that pursues the "full development of personality." Civic morals should not be obliged by law.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has forced schools to raise the "Hinomaru" (Rising Sun) flag and sing the song "Kimigayo" (May the Imperial Reign be Forever), despite the government promise to the contrary. This unjustifiable compulsion has escalated from punishing teachers who did not sing "Kimigayo" at school ceremonies to punishing teachers in homerooms where many students did not sing.
If the Fundamental Law of Education is revised, this type of compulsion will prevail throughout the country and children's patriotism will be evaluated based on whether they sang "Kimigayo" or how enthusiastically they sing. This must not be allowed to prevail in public schools.
The present Fundamental Law of Education does not set forth any specific moral values to be defined as the aim of education. This is because education is a cultural undertaking closely connected with the inner values of individuals and it is necessary to minimize legal provisions and the involvement of the state. For the government to remove this restraint and order schools to achieve this or that aim of education reminds us of the system that existed before and during WW II that high-handedly indoctrinated 12 morals through the Imperial Rescript on Education to educate children into citizens who support militarism.
State control of education will be limitless, totally upsetting self-reliance and freedom
The government bill tries to increase the government control and domination of education without limits to help the aim of education stipulated by this law to be achieved.
The present Fundamental Law of Education stipulates the aim of education as follows (Article 1): "Education shall aim at the full development of personality, striving for the rearing of the people, sound in mind and body, who shall love truth and justice, esteem individual value, respect labor and have a deep sense of responsibility, and be imbued with the independent spirit, as builders of peaceful state and society." In order to achieve this aim of education, the Fundamental Law of Education stipulates (Article 10): "Education shall not be subject to improper control, but shall be directly responsible to the whole people." This clause strictly bans "improper control" by the state on the contents of education. The present law further stipulates that "Teachers of the schools prescribed by law shall be servants of the whole community" (Article 6), thus establishing the principle that teachers are responsible to the people as a whole in providing education.
This principle is based on the analysis of the prewar education system which was subject to the strong control and domination by the state power that imposed a uniform education which indoctrinated students into militarism with no other option.
The government bill deletes the words "directly responsible to the whole people," replacing it with "as stipulated by this and other laws." The words "servants of the whole" are also deleted. The bill further stipulates that the government can decide on the contents of education by its basic program for promoting education, including details about numerical targets and make appraisals accordingly. In short, schools will be ordered to carry out education as the government has ordered by law and implement the goals the government has set out. Thus, the bill paves the way to unlimited intervention and control of education by the government.
Then, what kind of education does the government want to impose? The bill is intended to make education even more competitive as well as to indoctrinate in children "virtues," including an "attitude of loving the nation."
The change the government wants to make most in the Fundamental Law of Education is cited by the Education Ministry Central Council calling for a "national achievement test" to be institutionalized as part of the "education development project." In 1961-1964, when the ministry carried out the "national achievement test," students were thrown into a harshly competitive race that brought about moral decay in many schools. Faced with public criticism, the test had to be suspended. Recently, the "simultaneous achievement test" has revived in some areas, causing similar contradictions like in the 1960s'. The ministry intends to restore the national achievement test.
The provision of the Fundamental Law of Education; respects for independence, self-reliance, and freedom of education are provided for by the Constitution: the right to pursue happiness (Article 13), freedom of thought and conscience (Article 19), academic freedom (Article 23), and the right to receive an equal education (Article 26). This was endorsed by the Supreme Court ruling on the Asahikawa achievement test case in which state intervention in education was called into question. Revising the Fundamental Law of Education that would unlimitedly increase state control of education is incompatible with the constitutional principles of democracy.
The bill aims to bring up children as obedient followers of two major state policies of turning Japan into 'a war fighting nation' and 'an economic society under the law of the jungle'
What is the aim of the proposed total revision of the Fundamental Law of Education?
Note that the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education is attempted in the same line as the attempt to revise the Constitution, which is to enable Japan "to fight wars abroad." Advocates of constitutional revision use the term 'patriotism' so that the public may pledge their loyalty to a "war-fighting nation." This is clear from the fact that they are deleting from the bill's preamble the present Fundamental Law of Education's phrases stating, "Having established the Constitution of Japan, we have shown our resolution to contribute to the world and welfare of humanity by building a democratic and cultural state." In the bill, the word "peace" was also deleted from the original provision of "endeavor to bring up the people who love truth and peace."
The Japanese government and business circles want to have more competition-driven education in Japan. Its aim is to divide children into "winners and losers," so that they will grow up into persons who can conform to "an economy following the laws of the jungle." Former Curriculum Council Chair Miura Shumon stated, "Efforts should be made to further improve excellent students instead of trying to help dropouts and raise academic levels of students of poor performance." He also said, "All that we need to do for ungifted students is cultivate a sense of honesty."
The revision of the Fundamental Law of Education is aimed at indoctrinating children to be uncritical followers of the two state policies of turning Japan into "a war fighting nation abroad" and "an economy following the laws of the jungle." The Japanese Communist Party opposes such an attempt.
Fundamental Law of Education revision must be stopped because it has an important bearing on Japan's future
The Fundamental Law of Education, established together with the Constitution, was based on reflections on the enormous cost of Japan's past war of aggression that killed more than 20 million people abroad and over 2 million Japanese. In prewar days under the Emperor's despotism, children were taught to take pride in "Japan as a divine country" and to "devote one's life for the sake of the nation." Firmly reflecting on the mobilizing of young people into the war of aggression and resolving that Japan shall endeavor to raise children who will realize the constitutional ideals of peace, human rights, and democracy, the Japanese people established the Fundamental Law of Education.
If the Fundamental Law of Education is adversely revised, it will have serious negative impacts on children. It will also undermine peace, human rights, and democracy in Japan. How outrageous it is to go against the constitutional ideals of peace and democracy!
Blocking the adverse revision of this bill is of national significance. To all people who are concerned about the present state of children and education and to all people who love peace, human rights, and democracy, the Japanese Communist Party calls for a nation-wide struggle to foil the attempt to revise the Fundamental Law of Education.
- Akahata, May 16, 2006