Expected new PM of Japan to make textbooks more patriotic





To glimpse the brave new Japan of Shinzo Abe -- the hawkish 51-year-old poised to replace Junichiro Koizumi as prime minister next week -- take a peek inside the eighth-grade history classes at this city's prestigious Tamagawa Academy.

Using new textbooks with lessons hailed by Abe as the foundation of a more confident nation, junior high students at the elite private school are this year being taught something that has been largely taboo in post-World War II Japan -- to take pride in their country. The texts omit or soften references to atrocities committed by Japanese troops during the war, assure students that the war was waged primarily in self-defense and promote the ideal of a proud and independent Japan.

The controversial books, thus far adopted by only a handful of schools, have the support of the government and are set for wider distribution. But they are only part of Abe's vision for the future. He has vowed to push through a sweeping education bill, strengthening the notion of patriotism in public classrooms in a way not seen since the fall of Imperial Japan, and to rewrite Japan's pacifist constitution to allow the country to again have an official and flexible military.


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