Fundamental Education Law and Seigakuin's Conference on Education
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The Spirit of Japan's Fundamental Education Law and Seigakuin's Conference on Education

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Seigakuin University and Schools
Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chancellor Dr.Hideo Ohki

The previous prime minister,Obuchi,and his successor,Prime Minister Mori,both waved the banner of "Education Reform"as a key political issue for the cabinet.They frequently assert the need for revision of Japan"s Fundamental Education Law(FEL).But for now,they have not clearly revealed what or how they would change it:nstead, their political spin is singularly conspicuous as they attempt to simply feed the general impression that the FEL is the root cause of the ruin of today's education.

  Is the FEL really the source of the downfall of today
's education? Rather,isn't the problem the result of not following the FEL under the political leadership during Japan's postwar rebuilding? We must say that it is unjust to whitewash the truth and attribute responsibility to the FEL.The problems of Japan's post-war education, which ignored the FEL,is most clearly seen in the corruption of Japan's leaders today.The purpose of national education stated in the FEL is for the"perfection of character"but as a result of ignoring it,there are a number of politicians and top bureaucrats who are immature in character,and the seriousness of the corruption causes anxiety to Japanese citizens.

  Discerning people know how important the FEL really is.Rather, is it not necessary to re-educate politicians and bureaucrats based on the FEL? Most Japanese people know, through painful experiences from both before and after World War II,just how dangerous it is to let people of immature character have too much authority.

  It is said that the intention behind the revision of the FEL is to include"Japanese national education"to foster patriotism.If this is so,then it needs to be researched and examined in wider fields over a long period of time to see if it is prudent or not,rather than as an agenda item to be quickly pushed through the backdoors of politics.I think some will remember the "Kawai Eijiro Incident"at Tokyo University during the War. Prof.Kawai advocated that the purpose of education is for the"perfection of character."But he was oppressed by the authorities who claimed it was antithetical to patriotic"Japanese national education",and was forced to resign.

't the government quietly trying to do the same thing today? That is why a"National Conference"was established,and they prepared for it, counterfeiting the citizen's approval,in order to push through a political decision.If this"National Conference"does not appreciate the background and spirit upon which the FEL was established,and limits its role exclusively in accordance with the governments'wishes, we will only be repeating today,in a disguised manner,the obviously imbecilic behavior of the pre-War era.

  Japan as a country failed because of nationalism.It should not be as the proverb says,"Dogs return to their own vomit."Recently the statement by Tokyo Governor Ishihara,who warned the military to prepare for riots by illegal aliens and sangokujin [a derogatory term for foreigners; literally,"people of third countries,"] in the event of a major earthquake, has been criticized; but if this had been Europe, there would have been international opposition, as when Austria's Haider made a similar statement. Politicians talk about how"the Japanese are trusted internationally,"but does this not come from the "perfection of character"? The FEL is like a guarantee for international trust of Japan after the war, so talk of revising it now will only shake that trust.

  We should be re-educated or be continually educated according to the FEL.The direction of education cannot now be allowed to be derailed from its course towards the"perfection of character"into the repeated direction of the criminal record of nationalism,by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats or by intellectuals possessed by the dead spirit of wartime nationalism.Today, the people's task is to make the best of the spirit that established the FEL,in order to prevent critically problematic situations in the future.

  In this context,Seigakuin has been planning for several years a"Conference on Education," differing from the government's "National Conferences," with a unique vision,seeking to investigate solutions for issues in Japanese educational settings.The conference will open this autumn,October 23rd,at the newly built auditorium and meeting rooms of the Seigakuin Junior and Senior High Schools. Naturally using the FEL as a foundation,this conference should be a significant forum to examine various issues of Japan's post-war education and post-war society and look for solutions to these issues according to the real situation of educational settings.To fully deal with Japan's educational issues,Seigakuin is ready to move.


Written by Hideo Ohki,April 20,2000,before the recent nationalistic"divine nation"and "national polity"statements of Prime Minister Mori.

Translated by Paul Tsuchido Shew.