National pride to be compulsory

1st November 2002 at 00:00
RIDING a wave of patriotic fervour boosted by Japan's co-hosting of the World Cup, the government is set to make instilling a sense of national pride a compulsory part of the curriculum.

A government advisory panel has suggested pupils should be taught "love of one's country" and "respect for tradition". The panel of education officials and business leaders has proposed a package of changes to the education law which has remained unaltered for over half a century.

Other changes aim to "toughen" Japanese pupils, promote more family involvement in education and stress the importance of lifelong education and social volunteer work.

The Fundamental Law of Education was passed in 1947, and aimed to dismantle the nationalism that had propelled Japan into the Second World War. The new curriculum discouraged patriotism.

Japan's mostly centrist or left-leaning teachers also helped to steer a nation reared on militaristic prowess and emperor worship towards indifference or even embarrassment over nationalist feelings. Until recently, this was particularly true of attitudes to Japan's flag and anthem.

Despite fierce criticism from teachers, both have been reinstated as legally recognised national icons and must be deployed by schools by law.

Osamu Ishioka, a director at the Hiroshima Teachers' Union, said the proposed changes represent a significant shift from the principles enshrined in the Japanese constitution and called the compulsory use of the national symbols "an infringement of freedom and the universal declaration of human rights".

He said the government was emphasising patriotism as part of a national strategy for grooming "scrupulous and obedient citizens" to provide a stable workforce.

"For that purpose, it has to develop, among citizens, values that would put responsibilities and public interests before rights and individual dignity," he said.

The education ministry insists no conclusion has been reached about whether or not to heed the panel's views, but education experts believe that, given a shift of attitudes to the right, the law changes are inevitable.

The proposals will upset Japan's neighbours, who bore the brunt of the country's imperialism in the last century.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today