Reading the Taipei Times today, I came across an article that highlights yet another aspect in which Japan is returning to its nationalistic roots– education. The education minister, Ibuki Bunmei (伊吹文明), is a reactionary. In various speeches, he has stated that most young Japanese are incapable of writing or speaking well and that they need to “learn the rules of society” in elementary school before spending time on foreign languages. Fair enough. Now, though, he’s pushing into more disturbing territory:

“Human rights are important, but if they are respected too much then Japanese society will have human rights metabolic syndrome,” he said.

Ministry and LDP officials said they did not have a transcript of the remarks.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made education reform a top priority, last year pushing through a law that requires schools to teach “patriotism” — a taboo since World War II — when students were taught to revere the emperor. His government is also considering bringing back corporal punishment and adding classroom hours.

Taipei Times: Japanese Education minister slams individualism in schools

Considering the recent textbook revisions in Taiwan, which focus on patriotism, and the disturbing number of parents who still hit or their children here, I can’t say this sort of thinking is entirely alien to Taiwan. I sure hope we don’t get an educational minister of Ibuki’s mold, for this element to rally behind.

The Economist (via ecocn.org): Japanese Education: the wrong answer