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Readin, Ritin, Rithmatic and Government Skool Agendas

Fresh from his visit to pray at a place where WWII era war criminals are enshrined, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is keeping himself busy embarrassing himself, offending neighboring countries, and being a burden on the Japanese people.  This time, in his never ending quest to win the “King of Bad Ideas” award, he is pushing offensive revisions to teaching materials used in government schools.  These changes are sure to anger WWII victim countries like China and the Koreas and also lose a lot of friends and business for hard working common Japanese people.

In a sop to his right wing supporters, Abe and his minions at Japan’s department of education have decided to immediately force through revisions to the history manuals used in Japan’s government run junior high and high schools.  As a properly educated American, I thought that government school materials were supposed to teach children about the sanctity of whales, to revere heroes such as Cesar Chavez and Harriet Tubman and I expected the Prime Minister to be a good lap dog and follow through with similarly inane measures to dumb down Japanese children.

Sadly, instead of memorializing some relatively harmless politically correct themes, Abe’s revisions are meant to reverse the nearly universally accepted negative view of Japan’s WWII behavior.  Morally repugnant Japanese ruling elites believe that these revisions will somehow balance out the facts of Japan’s wartime brutality, such as the use of sex slaves and the “Rape” of Nanking.

I must be nuts, because I thought that occupying neighboring countries and torturing, maiming, and killing the innocent people there was shameful.  Crazy me thought it was horrible that a few militaristic bloodthirsty schemers could drag an entire country of intelligent, kind, and peaceful people into a war that resulted in so much suffering and destruction, both in Japan and abroad.   To silly old me, Japanese children should be very proud of Japan’s peaceful, productive, and wealth generating post war policies and proud to be honest about and apologetic for the horrible things done by the Japanese government in its imperialistic era.  I need to have a word about all this with my dear friend Shinzo next time we go golfing.

The revised materials also mandate that children are to be taught that several remote uninhabited islands are inherently Japanese territory.  Which country are the islands properly a part of?  Determining that correctly is similar to figuring out whether Don Corleone’s goons or the Gambino family goons have the right to extort protection money from the pizza restaurants on the block.  There is no reason or logic involved.  Rather, it’s just one gang trying to strut and point a bigger gun at the other gang in order to intimidate and grab the booty.  Here is how politicians and gangsters settle these sorts of arguments.

The remote and uninhabited islands between Japan and the Koreas (Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan) are now claimed to be inherently Japanese.  In Orwellian fashion, prior to the education department press release and change in policy, the official stance was that the Japanese and Korean governments merely had a difference of opinion about the islands.  After the press release, South Korea is said to be illegally occupying the islands.   The proof for such a claim is shaky, at best.  Japan as well as the Koreas could make plausible ownership claims and no one really seems to know for sure which country, if any, the islands belong to.  Yet Abe and his department of education want children to simply change what they believe without question now that the official press release has gone out and the classroom materials will be altered.  I wonder if they actually have a memory hole where they dispose of the old texts?

Textbooks can teach us much, and this episode is quite educational.  We learn that the Japanese Prime Minister is a reckless nationalist who is unrepentant of the WWII era crimes committed by Japanese leaders.  Abe is teaching us that he believes in using government schools to propagandize children and that he is willing to have bad relationships and risk a trade war or actual war with neighboring countries over some remote islands where ownership claims are unclear.

Japanese parents should learn several important lessons.  The agenda at government run schools has a strong bias towards propagandizing your children into believing a shameful distortion of history that only serves the interests of the political class.  Your children are taught to conform, to believe without thinking, to never question, and to obey.  Educating your children and helping them to become successful adults in a peaceful, free, and prosperous country may be on your agenda, but it isn’t what the government wants here in Japan.andy sirk

Thanks to Mike “in Tokyo” Rogers for editing my work .