Media Mix, July 31, 2016

kyousitu2Here’s this week’s Media Mix about recent moves by the government to make education policy that discourages differences. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party originally came up with the idea to fortify morals education back in 2007, during the first Shinzo Abe administration, after a bullied schoolboy in Otsu committed suicide. The ostensible idea was to teach children the value of a human life, but in a sense the proposed directives are themselves a form of bullying.

The most famous case in this regard was that of Nobuo Doi, the former principal of Mitaka High School in Tokyo. Doi had apparently been a thorn in the side of the education ministry for years. His main violation of protocol was to put directives made by the ministry through the local board of educationn to a vote in the teachers room. The board always told him that he had no right to challenge these directives in any way, but since he was a civil servant they couldn’t fire him. However, 97 percent of public school employees get teaching jobs in the system following retirement, and Doi was blackballed after he left his principal’s position, so he sued the government.

Insistence on neutrality in the form of an enforceable directive is thus a contradiction of the spirit of morals education, part of which is to recognize and accept differences. The example that most of the media used was a teacher who said something in class in relation to the LDP’s controversial security bills that if Japanese SDF personnel are sent to war zones likely some will be killed. That is not an opinion but rather a possible scenario based on observation. However, it was somehow interpreted to be a one-sided reading of the meaning of the law; in other words, a “political” statement. The teacher was reprimanded by the board of education, not the education ministry, because that’s how directives work. You are forced to stay in line through fear.

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