During the Asia-Pacific War, a rhythmical song was sung to encourage tip-off of neighbors who might be against the war. The war was supported by ordinary people through a system called ‘Tonari-gumi’, or ‘a surveillance network of neighbors’. Today such a scrutiny is unimaginable, but a website has bee set up that reminds us of a dark, gloomy society in which tipping-off prevails as a practice.
MAIN OBJECTIVE - INTIMIDATE TEACHERS AT SCHOOLS
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) opened a website in its homepage during June 25 and July 18, when the election campaign of the Upper House were going on. It was ‘Fact Finding Campaign on Political Neutrality at School’.
Arrival of Police State
The website was set up by the LDP’s Section of Education and Science (headed then by MP Kihara Minoru) as a scheme of e-mail transmission to disclose a name of school, teacher and concrete classroom program when a citizen doubts of ‘political neutrality’. The site was ready in the wake of a change in the election system in which young voters of 18 and 19 years of old of age take part for the first time.
The scheme was called ‘a tip-off site’ on the internet and the LDP shut it down on the ground that data had been sufficiently collected. Reportedly, the LDP surveys closely the e-mail messages to advise the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to take appropriate steps. The number and substance of the data are not announced to the public.
Mr. Kihara said on the Twitter early July; ‘unfortunately we see some teachers who deviate from political neutrality in the classroom. I am concerned whether high school students of 18 years of age may be led to a specific ideology. For this reason we have decided to investigate what happens at schools for political neutrality. I sincerely ask you for kind cooperation’.
Criticisms were raised one after another in response to his comment: ‘the mechanism has gone beyond the limit to lead to a police state’ or ‘a police state has come’. An example was shown in the LDP’s website as a case that is not regarded as politically neutral: to contest not to send students to battlefields. As criticisms rushed in succession, the LDP replaced it with another example, ‘to insist on abrogating the National Security Laws’. Waves of criticisms came again and the LDP has withdrawn the website.
The survey violates Article 16 of the Fundamental Law of Education, which provides ‘school education shall not be subjected to unfair domination ……’. It is natural that criticisms stormed: people ask whether the LDP urges students to act against a teacher to inform secretly or they say the practice means ideological control imposed before and during the WWII. It is obvious that the LDP intended to threaten teachers in the classrooms.
What Happened in absence of Criticisms
During the time when the Japanese society was ruled by the Maintenance of the Public Order Act (implemented in 1925), the government prosecuted and suppressed mass movements and organizations on the ground of aiming to change the state’s structure, taking advantage of ‘fact finding campaigns’. In 1928 the law was revised to allow the state authority to charge those who had criticized the government. Everyone knows what happened subsequently after criticisms against the government had ceased to exist.
Today a social environment emerges in which teachers are mistreated when they teach the Peace Constitution and use a word, peace, in the classrooms. Thus, spreads a trend to evade from misapprehension.
The Abe administration revised the Fundamental Law of Education during its first-round government, and then it changed the system of Board of Education and intensified censorship of textbooks in the succeeding cabinets in order to penetrate a top-down-order in the school education system.
People must tighten guard against permeation of the government’s intention in the society. We must reinforce counter-offensive.
August 16, 2016