‘First Shinto elementary school’?!

Japan Today carries a worrying article about an elementary school linked to the ultra-right with a curriculum that harks back to prewar militarism. Why worrying? Because it concerns what has been called the ‘first Shinto elementary school’. Unfortunately it has already been the cause of ‘hate speech’ and the centre of controversy.  And it hasn’t even opened.

Unsurprisingly for the murky world of the ultra-right, there are links with prime minister Abe, his wife and the Nippon Kaigi. Yet again the latent intentions of the extreme right have been laid bare, featuring the reinstatement of State Shinto with all its worst trappings. The more this is exposed, the greater the chance of stamping out the unpleasant stink that accompanies such developments.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that his wife Akie has resigned as honorary principal of a soon-to-open elementary school whose nationalist operator bought state-owned land at far below appraised value.

Abe made the announcement as he faced Diet questioning over the land sale to Moritomo Gakuen, which plans to open what it calls Japan’s “first Shinto elementary school” in April in Osaka Prefecture, western Japan.

Shortly before the announcement, a message from Akie Abe was removed from the school’s website. Abe also said he has lodged a protest with the operator for calling the school “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe memorial elementary school” as it sought donations.

“I accepted the offer to be the honorary principal, impressed by Mr Kagoike’s passion for education,” Akie Abe had said in her message on the school website, in reference to Moritomo Gakuen’s president and the school’s principal, Yasunori Kagoike.

The school “will nurture children who have pride as Japanese and a hard core, based on its excellent moral education,” she also said.

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From the Guardian

Akie Abe’s links to Moritomo Gakuen, a private kindergarten in Osaka, have come under scrutiny after the media reported that the preschool had bought state-owned land at a seventh of its listed price for a primary school it plans to open in April. She stepped down as honorary principal of the primary school on Friday, soon after it had removed her message of support from its website.

In the message, she endorsed the school’s attempts to foster national pride through moral education – an approach that harks back to pre-war militarism – adding that she had been impressed by the passion shown by the Moritomo president, Yasunori Kagoike.

The issue has dominated parliamentary debate this week, with opposition MPs demanding an explanation as to why the school was allowed to buy land at such a low price.

Shinzo Abe said he had protested against the use of his name when Moritomo was seeking donations for the Abe Shinzo memorial primary school. It has since decided to call itself the Mizuho no Kuni – meaning “land of rice” – primary school. Moritomo’s curriculum is designed to instil patriotism in its pupils, who are required to bow before portraits of members of the imperial family and go on field trips to military bases. Children aged between three and five sing the national anthem every morning and memorise the 1890 imperial rescript on education, which demands loyalty to the emperor and sacrifice for one’s country. The US occupation authorities banned the rescript, believing it had fuelled pre-war militarism.

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Feb 26, 2017

Things get worse.  Eric Johnston, Japan-based journalist, writes: ‘The Scandal at Moritomo Gakuen in Osaka takes a bizarre turn. A video has surfaced of kids chanting slogans like “Don’t lose to other countries; protect the Senkakus and Takeshima”,“Don’t teach lies in textbooks that Japan was evil towards China and Korea”. But the real eye-opener is that the kids also chanted `Prime Minister Abe! Gambare!”’

Shades of a personality cult taking place, alongside the increasing rhetoric of a need for a strong, military and patriotic Japan.

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