Spotlight: Japanese gov't draws further condemnation for allowing Hitler autobiography in schools

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-20 19:52:15|Editor: xuxin
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TOKYO, April 20 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government's recent approval of the use of Adolf Hitler's notorious autobiography "Mein Kampf" ("My Struggle") as teaching material in schools has raised widespread controversy.

According to Japan's Jiji Press, the government said in a written answer to an opposition lawmaker's questions that the German war criminal's book could be used "in a way that adheres to the spirit of the basic education law, among other conditions."

If the book were used in a way that promotes racial discrimination, it would be inappropriate and would lead to a strict response from regulators, said the government statement.

The move, however, has caused wide controversy due to the notorious nature of the book which outlines Hitler's Nazi ideology and advocates fascism, racism and extremism.

The reprint of the book was banned in Germany for 70 years before an annotated version was published in 2016 when the copyright expired and caused much controversy there.

Japanese citizens here have expressed their concerns on social media and news websites about the government's controversial decision to allow the book in classrooms, pointing out that it could be potentially damaging to young minds.

"Are teachers in charge of introducing this material in class suitably trained to do so? In my experience of having a child attend a normal Japanese school, I don't think so. And this is when it can become a dangerous addition to the curriculum," one netizen lamented.

"I highly doubt instructors will stress the negatives so much... Don't forget the government here is run by the far right, and their leader is still embroiled in a scandal involving a nationalist school operator aiming to mold the kids into the next brainwashed generation of the Imperial Japanese Army," highlighted another netizen.

"For the Japanese society which to this day has problems accepting its WWII past, I can't see how this would be beneficial on any mind in Japan when the majority of people don't understand the basics of what Hitler did that was wrong," the netizen asserted.

Hirofumi Hayashi, a professor at the Kanto Gakuin University, told Xinhua that "Mein Kampf" was such a notorious book, full of racist, fascist and extremist overtures, that the government should have taken a more critical and denouncing attitude towards the book, instead of allowing it to be used as teaching material.

Experts, local and international media went further to point out that the government's move was in essence, aimed at supporting its earlier decision to allow the use of the similarly controversial Imperial Rescript on Education in schools.

The Imperial Rescript on Education is an edict issued in 1890 by Emperor Meiji meant for nurturing "ideal" citizens that would sacrifice themselves for the emperor and the country. The rescript, serving as guidelines for prewar school education, played a considerable role of supporting Japanese nationalism and promoting militarism.

It was abolished after the end of the WWII but was reintroduced some 15 years ago by the nationalist Tsukamoto kindergarten, drawing staunch criticism from many, but reportedly having won support from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie.

The Japanese government, when responding to a question raised by an opposition lawmaker recently, said that though it is inappropriate to use the rescript "as the sole basis for education," the use of the rescript as teaching material in a way that does not violate the Constitution or the Basic Act on Education is acceptable.

The government's statement and overall stance on the matter, while finding support from Abe's cabinet ministers such as Education Minister Hirokazu Matsuno, has been condemned by opposition parties, the public and scholars with knowledge of the matter, as they are worried that it will add to a seeming institutionalized revival of pre-war, militaristic values.