The Abe government prepares to submit a bill to drastically ‘reform’ the system of Board of Education during the current Diet session. The ruling parties keep debating in cooperation. The first-round Abe government succeeded in amending, or worsening, the Basic Law on Education. His new ‘reform’ plan constitutes revision of the Constitution, too. We must be alert, watching carefully. We must voice loudly to reject his policy.
ULTIMATE GOAL - CONTROL OVER EDUCATION BY THE STATE
Prime Minister Abe delivered his policy speech, beginning with ‘rehabilitation of education that may develop talent of youth’, and referred to the existing education board system. He told; ‘I will drastically reform the system of Board of Educations in which responsibility is vaguely defined. Right responses are required to settle problems which emerge in the schools’.
Minister of Education Shimomura, keeping the remark in mind, replied in the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives that ‘during the current session I would like to present a bill to make a fundamental change in the Board of Education system’, to a question raised by a lawmaker of the Japan Restoration Party, Nakayama Nariaki, who had told that ‘(his) Party is determined to abolish the said system’.
The government is ready to submit the bill to the Diet by the end of March. It requests; to merge Secretary General and Chairman of Board of Education to a single person and establish a new post of New Education Director (a tentative name) to whom Mayor of municipality could influence directly. A policy to merge the two posts was agreed on in the first round of meetings of working group of ruling parties.
To reinforce centralized power of State
Mr. Tawara Yoshifumi, Secretary General of a civic organization, Children and Textbook Japan Network 21, points out, referring to the policy; ‘government is intended not only to change Boards of Education themselves, but also to remove restrictions hindering Minister of Education to instruct and order to local offices. It seeks school education to be organized under the centralized power of state which is similar to the practice seen in the era before and during the WWII’.
In the pre-war era Japan had put the education system under the state’s power in order to train soldiers in the militarist way to wage wars of aggression against third countries. After the war the Japanese governments have maintained, as a pivotal policy, the principle to guarantee democracy, division of power and voluntary decisions in school education, reviewing the past history. Some people, however, point out; Boards of Education, which should achieve the objective and implement relevant measures, are proven to have failed and have problems.
The Abe Government attempts not to consolidate and vitalize the Board of Education system, but, taking advantage of the criticisms, to put it under the strengthened, centralized authority of State as was seen in the pre-war era.
Aggravation of Textbook System, too
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is intended to overhaul the school textbook system, too, in line with the reform of Board of Education. The LDP claims; ‘many textbooks are written distortedly on the basis of a self-torturing ideology even after the Basic Law on Education was revised and the teaching manual was renewed, and therefore, such a practice must be corrected.’
The government wants to delete descriptions on wars of aggression and colonial rules from all the textbooks. It has already announced to review the ministry’s examination on textbooks that may distort historic facts. The Abe government told that it would review remarks of the then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Miyazawa who had set ‘the standard for descriptions on neighboring countries’, of Kono, the then-Chief Cabinet Secretary who had admitted in 1993 relationship of the military with the war-time sex slavery and of Murayama, then-Prime Minister, who had apologized in 1995 for the wars of aggression against Asian peoples.
Government’s control over teachers and schools
The government will compel publishing houses to write a textbook in line with the ministry’s advice and the rulings of Supreme Court as a stance of the people’s majority. In other words, if the government says that ‘nuclear power generation is safe’, the publishers will be made to write accordingly. Textbooks will be practically put under state control.
Good results will not be gained unless teachers are faithful, even if textbooks are ready. Therefore, the government will further restrict teachers. That is why it attempts to overhaul the Board of Education system to regulate schools.
March 4, 2014