On peace education in Japan
Learning from the past history is the foundation for the future. Peace education focuses on learning the history but studying history sometimes memorizing the knowledge. The lesson memorizing about the historical knowledge makes passive people, we need to shift more a history lesson more active, thus it turns peace education for peace. Bridge for Peace, BFP* is the NGO to record the testimony by former Japanese soldiers and use it for peace education. BFP was founded by Jin Naoko and acquired NPO status ten years ago. She told that her initial experience while her exposure tour to the Philippines in here college days. She was accused by local Filipinos saying “I do not want to meet Japanese since, my family were killed Japanese. The word echoed in her mind and she wanted to do something. Then she had chance to have interviews with former Japanese soldiers and made a video. Her team visited Philippines and showed the video, honest soldiers voice made brought into the reconciliation. BFP also does workshops in high schools and universities around Japan.
Peace education in Japan can be traced back to pre war (the Mukden Incident, Second Sino-Japanese War and Pacific War; 1931–1945) era. For instance, a dialogical approach to the writing of daily life (Seikatsu-tuzurikata) tried to develop critical literacy for peasants' children. However, most schools are institutionalized under the nationalism. Imperial Rescript on Education, Meiji Emperor's Message on Education showed the importance to respect ancestors was dispatched. A shrine was situated at every school compounds, teachers became a part of militarism help students to be volunteers, willing to die for the emperor. Children in grades three through six were subject to the government evacuation program and older students mobilized to work in factories.
After the war, the Japan Teachers' Union (JTU) was organized in 1947. Initially, 90 percent of teachers joined (20% at present). JTU has been promoting the slogan, "Never send our students to battle again" since 1951. The National Conference on Educational Research has been held to cover education issues and practices at national level and is held annually. Influenced by US occupation, democratic education was introduced and students centered curriculum were implemented. Some teachers learned from progressive pedagogy from USSR, promoting peace. Allied occupation, GHQ ordered reformations such as land reform, dissolution of the zaibatsu, others have done. The Constitution of Japan including article 9, renouncing war and the fundamental law of Education were turned out. The progressive trends in education have kept until 1958. There is the antagonism between JTU and the ministry of education. The pro government considered those are leftist. In 1995, JTU declared to change the policy to confront the national education policy. Term “peace education’ is used by pro union teachers and never used among board of education and national curriculum. Its content appeared in the context of education for international understanding. However there are a lot of items on peace and war across national curriculum and they are on the ministry of education approved textbooks.
LDP has tried to reform the constitution of Japan several times, though grassroots seems not allow to do so. However, 2006 first Abe cabinet amended the fundamental law of Education. Recently the board of education system has changed and give more power to mayors and governors, centralizes power. In 1956, the system of electing education board members through a popular vote was replaced by the current system under which mayors and governors appoint them.
After the War under the US occupation, the media was strictly controlled by press code. This year is the 60 years anniversary of the 5th Lucky Dragon Incident (1953), a Japanese tune fishing boat exposed to radiation fallout in the U.S. hydrogen bomb test explosion at Bikini Atoll. The civil efforts to anti nuclear bomb spread and the first World Conference against A and H Bombs was held then the Japan Council against A & H Bombs was founded in 1955. It was the epoch of the peace movement and peace education. There are many outcomes concerning nuclear bomb; known as a bomb literatures. 1980 was the 35th anniversary of the end of World War II and the year that it became possible, in principle, for US government documents at least 30 years to be made public under the Freedom of Information Act. Besides, the collection of the testimonies from Hibakusha, a bomb survivors are archived.
The most materials are on Hiroshima, Nagasaki, a strategic bombing in Japan. They describe how war was cruel and misery by victim perspectives.
In 1970s, reflecting the textbook controversy in Asia, the materials on the responsibility, exploring the Japan as a perpetrator were developed. Facts on sex slaves, Unit 731(secret medical experiment), Nanjin Massacre were prevailed. 1960 and 70 anti Japan US security and US bases struggle, anti Vietnam war were the issues. In accordance with industrialization public pollution was caused. Air pollution, Mercury poisoning such as Minamata disease are occurred. There are marginalized side of the history; Okinawa (US returned Okinawa in 1972), Ainu, Korean and Chinese forced labor, Hansen's disease victims should be focused.
Traditionally, excursions to the peace museum are very popular school events providing learning opportunities and during vacation time students are often assigned to investigate local war history. Learning about Sadako and holding paper crane becomes typical activity. The world suffered by series of war Gulf war, Iraq war, after 9.11 and there is trend to prepare wars. The Abe cabinet decided to set new conditions on the use of force for collective self-defense and to replace the Three Principles banning Japan's arms trade with new three principles which allow blanket exports of weapons and military-related technology. Those neo conservative trends are world wide, but civil society’s efforts is more gradual. After the 3.11, earthquake and nuclear power plants accidents, particularly youth and mothers are seeking for alternatives from their local community. Peace is not a single issue against the security but needs to link the world and history and present life.
The LDP’s Ten Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change
The fundamental law of Education
. Stoddart Press