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Shiro Takahashi

【#201】Education Revitalization Council Lacks Sense of Crisis

Shiro Takahashi / 2013.07.10 (Wed)

July 8, 2013

      The Japanese government’s Education Revitalization Council has submitted proposals on bullying and corporal punishment, the education board system, and university education, which indicate that the council lacks a sense of crisis about Japan’s collapsing education and fails to recognize the “clash of civilizations” in the world. The previous government led by the Democratic Party of Japan had adopted a cost-benefit approach to sort out education programs. But any education reform should give priority to investment in the future under a 100-year grand vision of Japan.

Bullying prevention and morals should be based on home education
      Last autumn, I made proposals three times about the bullying issue at the Liberal Democratic Party’s education revitalization headquarters. Given that anti-bullying laws have been enacted in 49 states of the 50 American states, I called for enacting a basic anti-bullying law in Japan, presented a draft of the law and pointed to the significance of not only responses to bullying actions but also measures to forestall and prevent bullying. The basic law has been enacted. But prevention measures have been insufficient.
      Bullies lack feelings of sympathy, shame and guilt. The brain’s critical period for developing these feelings comes just before children turn three years old (according to former Harvard University Professor Jerome Kagan), indicating that bullying prevention measures and moral education should be based on home education before the age of three. In this sense, the Education Revitalization Council should clearly propose that the revitalization of education begin with that of home education. Saitama Prefecture has introduced a supplementary guide for home moral education. This kind of approach should be spread throughout Japan in line with the adoption of moral as a school subject.
      As for the education board system, Japan should fundamentally reform powers and authorities of governors and mayors, education board chairpersons, and school superintendents whose governance has failed to work. Worthy of consideration in this respect is an education reform proposal by the Institute for International Policy Studies in May 2011, which called for reorganizing the education board secretariat into an assistant to the governor or mayor under a new system to secure political neutrality, continuity and stability of education.
      Fine-tuned discussions are required on how to proceed with the decentralization of education while specifying the central government’s responsibilities and authorities to prevent undesirable developments like the confusion over the adoption of school textbooks in Yaeyama region of Okinawa Prefecture.

Civilization viewpoint required for revitalizing university education
      The Education Revitalization Council’s third proposal on university education ends up as a follow-up to the government’s Industrial Competitiveness Council’s arguments that relied on the viewpoint of economics and science and engineering, and it must be fundamentally revised. While “globalization” is generally interpreted as “global equalization,” the development of global human resources lacking viewpoints of Japanese identity may lead to massive flows of stateless brains out of Japan.
      “Globalization” represents what Samuel Huntington describes as the “clash of civilizations.” From the civilization viewpoint of national strategy based on this perception of the world, Japan must reform university education and develop and implement a long-term scheme to make Japan’s culture known to the world. The Japan Institute for National Fundamentals may have to compile a proposal to this end.
Shiro Takahashi is Director, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and Professor at Meisei University