Fri, Nov 17, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Patriotism law for Japanese schools set to take effect

AP , TOKYO

Japan's lower house of parliament yesterday approved a legal reform bill that would require schools to instill "a love of one's country" in children.

With the ruling bloc dominating the upper and lower chambers, yesterday's lower house passage makes the bill's enactment almost certain.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, the New Komeito, want to revise Japan's post-World War II education law to boost patriotism among the young.

Teaching patriotism, an idea used to fan militarism under the World War II-era government, has long been taboo in Japan.

The revision, a centerpiece of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's conservative agenda, is strongly opposed by opposition lawmakers, who boycotted yesterday's lower house vote.

The bill is also designed to strengthen coordination among schools, families and communities, while stressing the importance of parental guidance and introducing lifelong learning opportunities.

It was endorsed on Wednesday by a lower house committee, which opposition members also boycotted.

The bill, which must be approved by a majority of both parliamentary houses before it can take effect, will now be sent to the weaker upper house for a separate vote, expected next month.

Because of the bill's emphasis on morality, ethics and patriotism, some opponents compare it to the 1890 Imperial Rescript of Education, which the wartime leaders forced all schoolchildren to memorize and recite before the portrait of the emperor.

The Rescript, which demanded loyalty to parents, respect for the laws and self-sacrifice for the emperor, was banned by US forces after Japan's war defeat.

Opposition leaders yesterday demanded more debate, threatening to boycott the rest of the parliamentary session.

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