Japan's Cabinet approves bill to amend education law

Japan's Cabinet on Friday approved a revision of the education law to teach "love of the nation" and other patriotic themes, a longtime goal of conservatives eager to instill young people with greater national pride.

The bill, the first-ever revision of the 1947 Fundamental Law of Education and object of criticism from a teachers' union, will now be submitted to parliament, said Education Ministry official Shiro Terashima.

The revision would add language requiring educators to foster "love of the nation and homeland and respect for its tradition and culture." The changes were endorsed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner earlier this month.

"We will work hard toward the passage of the bill and hope to have the kind of discussions to gain understanding from the public," Education Minister Kenji Kosaka said.

Teaching patriotism has been largely taboo in Japan since the country's disastrous defeat in World War II, and has been long opposed by the left-leaning teachers' union.

On Thursday, the Japan Teachers Union submitted a petition signed by 610,000 teachers accusing the ruling coalition of a lack of transparency during discussions on the bill, said union official Mikio Someya.

He said that the petitions also called for the establishment of committees in both houses for thorough deliberation on the education law.

Critics of the bill also say that the revision would further damage ties with Asian neighbors like China and South Korea where Japan's World War II-era aggression is bitterly remembered.

Many in Japan, however, have argued that the young should also be taught national pride as the country takes a more active diplomatic and military role in the world, reports the AP.

I.L.