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Reinserting the Nationalist Logic into Education

After the end of the Occupation, the conservative government also tried to revitalize nationalism in Japanese education. Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru criticized the postwar education system because he felt that it failed to “cultivate love of the nation” (aikokushin) and educate young patriots willing to fight for their country.60 Amano Teiyu, minister of education in Yoshida’s government, similarly advocated greater emphasis on patriotism in education on several occasions.61 In essence, these conservative politicians disliked the 1947 Basic Act on Education (Kyoiku Kihonho), which defined the purpose of Japanese education in predominantly cosmopolitan terms: “We have established the Constitution of Japan and declared our determination to create a democratic and cultured country and contribute to world peace and welfare of humankind. Realization of this ideal depends fundamentally on the power of education. We shall educate human beings who revere the dignity of the individual as well as seek truth and peace ardently while vigorously promoting the creation of universal and unique culture through education.”62 Here, the Basic Act on Education promised a significant departure from the prewar education system based on the Imperial Script on Education, which had promoted the education of “imperial subjects [who] in a time of crisis shall bravely and loyally shoulder the divine imperial destiny.”63

The conservative attacks on the Basic Act on Education increased after Hatoyama Ichiro became prime minister in December 1954. His minister of education, Kiyose Ichiro, a former defense lawyer for Tojo Hideki, openly criticized the act, which he felt “connects the individual to the world directly, but it totally lacks a concept of the nation that mediates the two.”64 Then, in February 1956, Hatoyama’s government submitted to the Diet a bill to set up the Ad Hoc Council on Education to review the postwar education system based on the act by arguing that the education system had been “reformed too rapidly in the peculiar situation under the Occupation and, as a consequence, it is incompatible with the reality [of Japanese society] in more than a few respects.”65 When explaining the motivation behind the bill, Kiyose stated that he had no problem with moral principles that the basic act promoted, except that “when I read the act, I cannot help wondering, ‘Where on earth does it mention loyalty to our Japanese nation?’ ”66

The bill, however, was heavily criticized by the JSP for “trying to place education under government control.”67 The bill passed the House of Representatives in March 1956, but it was discarded at the House of Councillors because Hatoyama’s government focused on two other education-related bills during the 1956 Diet session: the Bill on Local Administration of Education (Chiho Kyoiku Gyosei Hoan) and the Bill on Textbooks (Kyokasho Hoan).68 The Bill on Local Administration of Education aimed to replace the Act on Boards of Education that had been created during the Occupation to decentralize and democratize the process of education policy making. Specifically, the bill proposed to replace local election of board members with appointment by municipal heads because the LDP wanted to keep supporters of the JSP and Japan Teachers Union (JTU) from taking control of local boards of education. In April and May 1956, JTU and other education-related NGOs issued joint statements against the bill.69 In addition, approximately five hundred thousand teachers across Japan cancelled classes to protest what they saw as a regression to prewar Japan’s governmental control of education.70 In the end, the LDP used its numerical majority in the Diet to push through the bill in June 1956 in the midst of angry cries and fistfights with the JSP and other opposition parties.71

Concurrently, the LDP tried to modify the process of textbook inspection with the Bill on Textbooks. The government had monopolized the production of school textbooks in prewar Japan, but the government monopoly was abolished in 1949 and replaced by the government-administered system of textbook inspection. This encouraged teachers to produce textbooks of their own in collaboration with university professors and textbook companies.72 Under the reformed system, textbook selection also happened at the school level, allowing teachers to participate in the selection process. In early 1955, however, Hatoyama’s Japan Democratic Party (Minshuto) began to criticize textbooks of JTU members by publishing a series of pamphlets, The Problem of Worrisome Textbooks (Ureubeki kyokasho no mondai).73 Then, after the creation of the LDP in November 1955, attacks on “biased textbooks” (henko kyokasho) culminated in the Bill on Textbooks, which proposed to increase the government’s prerogative in textbook inspection and to authorize a board of education to select textbooks uniformly for schools in its district.74 The bill was therefore designed to reduce the influence of JTU members in the production and selection of school textbooks.

Given the strong opposition from the JSP and the JTU, Hatoyama’s government gave up the Bill on Textbooks because it judged that passing the Bill on Local Administration of Education was more important. The Ministry of Education nonetheless proceeded to use its budget and discretionary power to expand its staff to conduct textbook inspection within the Textbook Department of the Division of Primary and Secondary Education in late 1956.75 Then, in July 1957, the ministry issued an administrative directive, declaring that a board of education should have the authority to select textbooks for schools in its district.76 Moreover, when the Course of Study for elementary and junior high schools was revised in 1958, the ministry made it legally binding to require textbook writers and teachers to conform more closely to the ministry’s curricular guidelines. A board of education was also legally authorized to select textbooks for its district in December 1963 when the LDP succeeded in creating the Act on School Textbooks for Mandatory Education.77

The growing governmental control over education affected textbook writers who were critical of Japan’s actions during the Asia-Pacific War. One of these writers was Ienaga Saburo, a history professor at Tokyo University of Education. His struggle with textbook inspection began in 1955, when he submitted his draft high school textbook New Japanese History (Shin nihonshi) for textbook inspection.78 Although his draft textbook was approved, textbook inspectors required Ienaga to respond to a total of 216 suggested revisions: for example, “Replace the sentence ‘the Japanese military occupied Beijing, Nanjing, and Hankou in succession and expanded the battle line across China’ with ‘the battle line expanded across China’ ”; “Delete the figure with the caption ‘women and children running in confusion in Hiroshima after injured by the atomic bombing’ ”; “Delete the figure with the caption ‘workers opposing Japan’s rearmament.’ ”79 After incorporating the majority of the suggested revisions, Ienaga’s draft textbook was approved for use at high schools. But Ienaga had to go through another round of textbook inspection immediately because the Course of Study for high school was revised in 1955. This time his draft textbook did not pass inspection. The Ministry of Education explained the rejection as follows: “Since the author [Ienaga] has too much enthusiasm for critical reflections in light of historical facts, this textbook strays away from the educational objective of Japanese history, to make students recognize the efforts of their ancestors, strengthen their awareness as the Japanese people (nihonjin to shite no jikaku), and cultivate abundant love for the Japanese nation.”80 After learning the reason for the rejection, Ienaga revised and resubmitted his textbook, which was approved in 1959.

With another revision of the Course of Study in I960, however, Iena- ga’s draft textbook was rejected again. After Ienaga revised and resubmitted his textbook, the Ministry of Education approved it on the condition that Ienaga should respond to nearly three hundred suggested revisions. For example, the ministry requested Ienaga to “delete the word ‘hopeless (mubona)’ from the phrase ‘hopeless war’ because it seems unreasonable to blame Japan alone for the Asia-Pacific War in light of the worldwide situation at the time,” and to “qualify the word ‘war criminals (senso hanzainin)’ by explaining how the Tokyo Trial was conducted one-sidedly by the victor countries.”81 This prompted Ienaga to file a lawsuit in June 1965. Ienaga and his lawyers did not challenge the required revisions per se but the constitutionality of textbook inspection itself. They argued that textbook inspection violated Articles 13, 23, and 26 of the Japanese Constitution, which guaranteed freedom of scholarly research and education, as well as Article 10 of the Basic Act on Education, which prohibited the government’s “illegitimate control” (futona shihai) of education.82 Put another way, what came to be known as the Ienaga Textbook Lawsuit questioned the nationalist logic at a fundamental level—namely, the very institutional arrangement that authorized the government to exercise control over the education of citizens and promote nationalism in history education. Soon after Ienaga filed a lawsuit against the government, university professors in education and history, schoolteachers, and lawyers met in Tokyo in August 1965 to discuss strategies to support his lawsuit, and they proceeded to create the National Liaison Council for Textbook Inspection Lawsuits (Kyokasho Kentei Sosho wo Shiensuru Zenkoku Renrakukai).83 This was the beginning of the long battle that Ienaga and his supporters were to fight in the coming decades.

During this period, then, conservative politicians tried to exploit the pol itical opportunity—their monopoly of the government—to reinsert the logic of nationalism into the postwar education system; however, their success was compromised because the JSP, the JTU, and other opposition parties and NGOs had sufficient mobilizing structures to resist the education- related bills proposed by the conservative government. The opposition emphasized the evils of war in pacifist terms and criticized the government’s education policy as a regression to prewar militarism. To be sure, the opposition failed to stop the government from strengthening its control over education, but it nonetheless succeeded in preserving the Basic Act on Education that institutionalized cosmopolitanism.

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