Starting with Ourselves-The Destination of Education(2)

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"Starting with Ourselves The Destination of Education"

5.            The core of Nakasone's philosophy, from page 16 of his book, can be seen in a statement he made at the House of Representative's Committee for the Examination of the Constitution held this past May. His intention is to foster a national movement through revision of the FEL, and through that movement, to revive the declining Liberal Democratic Party. It is more a strategy of the LDP, rather than a national strategy. He even said, "for that reason, we should effectively utilize the 'National Conference on Educational Reform'" (p.187, italics added). Politicians often tolerate this kind of thinking, but educators must not. I believe that there must be a different way of doing politics in a democratic society. A TV commentator (TAKEMURA Ken'ichi) praised this book, recommending it as a good book. Honestly, I doubt whether it is a good book or not. Clearly, viewing the FEL as the cause of decay of education in today's society is a false judgment. How did he arrive at this conclusion? Nakasone does not show repentance, as Weizsäcker who repented for Germany's past, and does not have the assurance of democracy as Kim does. Nakasone judges so because he believes that the FEL does not contain "ethnicity, history, culture, tradition, family, that are the elements of community." And he maintains that a FEL that does not contain these elements amounts to the "dismantling of Japan" by the United States.

6.            How will the world receive this kind of philosophy? The eyes and ears of the world are different from the people around Nakasone. In this information-society, we cannot hide from other countries what is said within Japan. Nakasone's nationalistic "Japanism" strategy reminds us of Hitler's German strategy when he emphasized "Germanic" aspects and tried to reestablish the country after WWI. The Weimar Constitution after WWI was based on democracy. However, they considered it to be the dismantling of Germany. Why did Hitler succeed? There was an article in a London newspaper at that time. This is a quote from "England and Germany" by Herman Levi: "The Republic of Germany was established under the Weimar Constitution which actualized the best liberal principles of all time. There was nothing lacking except the will to act out this law and expand it with the purpose to provide social benefits for German citizens" (p. 219, italics added). Levi analyzes this situation in Germany as follow: "Germany's symptoms, no matter what kind of constitution it has, are exactly the same as the symptoms of a patient who is told by a doctor that unless he is willing to heal the illness by his own care, will and mental attitude, he will not be healed." Hitler knew that the trick to foster such tendencies was by making the reactionaries drunk and by tickling the pride of a people ignored and forgotten, through persuasion and slogans such as "German Culture," "the theory of race and blood" and "Germanic Nation," or from long ago, things "seated deep in the mind and spirit of the German people" (p.218). Not only that, he heightened the spirit of Germans to the level that they thought that "Germanic things are necessary to heal a sick world." We are surprised to see the same tone in the book Kokutai no Hongi (The True Meaning of National Polity) written during the war. But more surprisingly, it is seen in Nakasone's book today.

7.            Why is Japan caught in such an exclusive and destructive cycle? Is it not the result of the lack of political "will" to establish a new Japan with the FEL and the LDP after WWII, as was the case in Germany after WWI? Recently, the government has been enthusiastically working the revise the FEL ?an enthusiasm that never existed in the LDP's postwar educational politics. The result of their efforts is the ruin of education. The only thing that exists is the backward will to revise the FEL even utilizing the National Conference on Education.

II. The Copernican Revolution ? The Education Revolution

1.            In academic settings, mistakes can be corrected through mutual critical discussions. However, in political settings, in cases similar to Hitler, politicians actually start political leadership with the wrong philosophy. That is why the mistake must be corrected immediately. That is the benefit of democracy, too. Reinhold Niebuhr noted the following famous saying in the preface of his book The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, "the human ability for justice make democracy possible, and the human tendency toward injustice make democracy necessary." Japan today is in need of this democracy.

2.            The Seigakuin University General Research Institute has been conducting research over the years regarding the origin of democracy, the history of civil society and the change in the role of the nation-state. The problem with Nakasone's philosophy is, frankly speaking, the lack of an understanding of democracy. For example, Nakasone writes, "Japan is a natural nation, formed through history and tradition. Therefore, it is good and obedient to have some strategy" (National Strategy, p.43, italics added). Would this self-praising statement of the Japanese nation gain acceptance from our neighboring countries? Our university president, IISAKA Yoshiaki, has previously criticized Nakasone's personality as "narcissistic." Certainly, in Nakasone's case, he must be highly narcissistic. Narcissism is one of the narrow-minded symptoms of not understanding other people's world. Not knowing others leads to not knowing oneself. I have to point out that this theory of nation is only a simplification of the previously mentioned Kokutai no Hongi (The True Meaning of National Polity), which contains similar characteristics. It is obvious that this kind of philosophy is not in accordance with the "sovereignty of the people" described in the Japanese constitution. In the seventeenth century, the British nation experienced a Copernican revolution in its understanding of the nation-state: from "naturalistic nation theory" which contained the absolute position of the king, to democracy based on human rights. The Copernican revolution originally meant the rotation of the planets, but it is used to mean social 'revolution'. This revolutionary change formed the worldwide movement for democracy. It is the form that was used in the Japanese constitution for "formation of the nation" for a new Japan.

3.               Nakasone says that the FEL lacks "ethnicity, history, culture, tradition, family, that are the elements of community," but the fact is that the Committee on Educational Reform, that created the post-war FEL, understood them clearly but chose to exclude them. They had "repentance" for the pre-war Japan. They knew that it was that kind of thinking that drove the Japanese nation to war. They deeply regretted it, and with firm resolve, they made respect for individuals and character formation the foundation of education. Those people who were part of creating the FEL were representative intellectuals, scholars and politicians in Japan at that time. These people were not only intellectually outstanding, but possessed the decency to repent of the war responsibility in education. However, when we look at the members of today's National Conference on Education, we have to say that there is a wide gap in their intellectual breadth and depth of repentance. It is true that the FEL was created right after the war and there were people who talked about things discussed in today's committee. However, these were overcome after serious discussions and they came to a consensus. They created this document as an expression of Japanese intellect, not out of pressure from the United States. It was Dr. MUTAI Risaku, president of Tokyo Bunrika University, who was main leader of this process. He was a philosopher with a background in Buddhism and was trusted by NISHIDA Kitaro, the highly regarded Kyoto-school philosopher. He clarified that we need to think about family, society and nation starting from the foundation of "respecting individuals." A Copernican revolution in education emerged, rejecting the wartime slogan "messhi hoko (extinguish self, serve public)," ?which was surprisingly used by Prime Minister Mori? emphasizing the establishment of individuals first and then dealing with family, society and nation. The members of the Committee on Educational Reform knew about the issues of "individual" and "public" which are discussed today, and based on deep knowledge, created the FEL as the direction for the formation of a new Japan. Dr. Mutai Risaku had the deep insight that Japan faces a danger of returning to nationalism unless it is founded upon a respect for individuals. It was the beginning of a revolution in education, based on a Copernican revolution in the understanding of the nation.

4.               Politicians like Nakasone and his sympathizers, who claim the necessity of revising the FEL, should not rush a political revision without trying to refute those intellectual leaders who were thinking of Japan's future with a deep sense of repentance. KATSUTA Yoshitaro, a member of the National Council on Educational Reform, is bringing up the "theory of species" by TANABE Hajime from during the war. He is like an anachronistic communist who cannot understand the meaning of the destruction of the Berlin Wall. The world in recent history has rejected that kind of philosophy and is overcoming it. These politicians are talking about the history of ethnic nations without learning world history. The citizens of our nation need to judge this intellectual chaos.