Chapter VII Who should proceed with / What should precede the common education system?
Section 1 Who exercise the right of education?
The right of education here is the right to determine the basic framework of concept and system, etc. of education. This type of education includes higher education at the level of education, etc. This paper discusses this matter only in the light of common education.
The right of education to determine the basic framework of concept and/or system of education in the pre-modern period was monopolized by the ruling class of the nation state in general. After the middle of the 19th century, the opinion against it and asserted that the right belongs to people was spread.
As for Japan, the pre-war time, especially after the promulgation of the Imperial Constitution, the right of education was viewed to belong to the emperor. The education became controlled under the concept of the Imperial Prescript on Education in 1890. The reason why the Imperial Constitution does not have the education clause was because it was to avoid the Assembly to violate the emperor’s right of education.
After the WWII, by the promulgation of the Constitution of Japan, this situation was converted into the principle of sovereignty of the people. This was remarkable.
The phrase of the first clause of the Article 26 of the Constitution of Japan “as provided by law” reflects the change from the Imperial Order centric mind to the legalist mind.
The first clause stipulates that all people have the right to receive education. In the pre-war time, people were approved only to have an obligation to receive the education set forth by the imperial state.
The decisively important clause for the common education is the second clause of the Article 26.
By this clause, all people, regardless they have children of their direct guard or not, now are obliged to have all children receive common education. This means that all people are now obliged to know and consider many matters, including what is common education, how should the common education systems be, any related legal frameworks concerned with common education and what are their discussion point, whether or not the government has accurately received the intentions of the legal framework and carried out appropriate preparations throughout the country, whether or not have local governments taken adequate measures in regard to common education, how has it been received by all children, school, teachers and guardians, etc. And people now have an obligation to have their own opinions to be reflected directly on the parliament
The government and the Ministry of Education at that time might have been taken by complete surprise to receive the common education by the Constitution, because they had still had the pre-war mindset of educational administration. So, the government and the Ministry of Education did everything in their power to direct the right of people towards their regain of the control, since the promulgation of the Constitution as well as the Basic Act on Education.
What they did was to limit the obligation period for common education to 9 years, exclude senior high school education from being exempt of its tuition fees, interpret the phrase “be obliged” found in the common education clause of the Constitution in a twisted manner, draw an image of common education as “compulsory education,” make the mere writing authorized by the Ministry of Education “curriculum guidelines” into the “curriculum standards” by School Education Act enforcement regulation at the early stage, etc. By doing all these, people’s acknowledgement of their responsibility to have all children receive common education became extremely limited. In addition, the government and the Ministry of Education began taking a control over the common education, making an excuse of “correcting common education orientation” by 1950 when the American occupation was over.
The government and the Ministry of Education considered that the common education with the concept of “bringing up people as people in the universal sense” cannot manage the post-war politics, so it was the strategy from the start for the government to take initiatives for redirecting the education system to be the “national education system.”
This strategy was gradually strengthened and reached to its aim after a half century, taking the form of the Basic Act on Education “amendment” of 2006. It was under this “amended” Basic Act on Education that the educational concept was changed from “fostering people” to “fostering national people.”
A cabinet meeting decided the “Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education” in a rather one-sided manner, and the “amended” Basic Act on Education finalized a system of pressing people. The right of people in regard to common education has a large number of restrictions in the end.
Yet, the Constitution itself and the education clause itself are remaining. This can be viewed as the consensus of people. The right of people for common education stands still regardless the “amended” Basic Act on Education. The Constitution requires for people to maximize in practicing their right and for the common education system to be truly realized.
Section 2 Parliamentary democracy and common education
a) The parliamentary democracy is bound with an important responsibility for constructing common education as a legal framework.
This has been confirmed at times as well in the past.
For example, the Supreme Court ruling in regard to the Asahikawa achievement test case in 1976 reasoned the relations between the parliamentary democracy and nationalist intervention into the common education contents, etc. as follows. In consequence, the parliamentary democracy is wavered by various political factors, so the nationalist intervention to decisions made by the Diet in regard to the contents or deliverance of common education shall be refrained as much as possible. This case acknowledged the involvement of the parliamentary democracy to common education contents within the capacity of the standard outline, and the decision was made regarding the limitation of nationalist intervention to Diet intention.
Nonetheless, the “amended” Basic Act on Education of 2006 challenged the Supreme Court decision and regulated “education shall not be subject to the unjustified domination so shall be practiced as provided by this and other laws.” The Supreme Court considered the notable nature of common education and suggested the containment of nationalist intervention, but the “amended” Basic Act on Education loosened the legal limit on nationalist intervention by asserting that the practice shall be approved by also general law. And they drew the image of the people’s expression on their intention or various movements toward the educational administration as “unjustified domination.”
The Article 10 of the Basic Act on Education before the “amendment” stipulated that “Education shall not be subject to improper control, but it shall be directly responsible to the whole citizens,” but this clause was eliminated in the “amended” Basic Act on Education. Yet, the “amended” Act still remains in using the word “common education” (“general education”). The education clause of the Constitution also still remains its validity. By considering the specific nature of common education, isn’t it that this is a liable enough legal reason for limiting “improper control” imposed by educational administration toward common education? The issue is to expand this possibility in the Assembly as well as other related fields.
In the meantime, the minutes of the Diet meeting discussing the amendment of the Basic Act on Education usually leaves a quite disorganized image, yet such a free-style discussion system is very important. Some politicians may not necessarily have an adequate knowledge specialized in the field of education, but they can discuss in their ways about what is the Basic Act on Education, what should it be, and what is education or common education, etc.
As a matter of course, there are urgent needs to consider the rules, different from those for general laws, suitable to further the debate on Education regulations, such as the prohibition of forcible passage, to practice fully the right to investigate state affairs, etc. Even the “amended” Basic Act on Education has the regulation (Article 6) “the schools prescribed by law are of a public nature.” Isn’t it the nature of parliamentary democracy to put the “public nature” in speech up collateral, even though the article is inadequate?
The prime minister at the time, Mr. Koizumi, made a statement during the debate in regard to the amendment of the Basic Act on Education, saying that “what I believe as the important matter for children to attend the school for the first time is for teachers to receive children fully, they feel going to school is fun, teachers make such an atmosphere and for children to earn the understanding of joy of learning. What is more important than that, though, is that children have the strong feeling of acceptance by their parents, teachers, and others surrounding those children. That is the most important matter, I believe. (Snip) So, it is a matter of great regret to know the occurrence of some parents acting in inhumane behaviors, like child abuse, knowing that children are supposed to be loved. The basic premise of education, I believe, is for children being born to feel love from people around them, for the environment of adults to make children strongly feel so, and for children to have fun at school and to learn when children go to school.”
His statement is surprisingly idyllic, yet no one would deny this kind of education. Nevertheless, how does this type of view of education relate to the theory of “amendment” of the Basic Act on Education which Mr. Koizumi promoted? To make a statement like that in regard to one’s view on education at the arena of Diet meeting in itself is free of choice and important. But the statement would turn into become derisive to the people, if it was made only for the purpose of being amicable to the public, without any adequate explanations in regard to the relation of the statement and the “amendment.”
The majority of teachers are actually making daily efforts to “receive children fully,” “create an environment for children to feel fun to go to school.” Likewise, the majority of parents also hope to bring up their children in an environment where children “feel being loved by people around them.”
The parliamentary democracy of Japan today became no more than a forum where irresponsible statements are repeated, having a large number of guardians and teachers making endless efforts to bring up the children under severe conditions.
Yet, at the same time, it is a reality for a prime minister of one country has to make a statement like this at Diet meeting, whatever his intention may be. This reality is the evident of the universality of common education.
It is a people’s consensus to seek for the education to which everyone can sympathize and share. Based on this consensus, the Constitution and the Basic Act on Education requires the legislative administration to take the responsibility for that.
Section 3 Educational administration and common education
Mr. Takashi Kurasawa pointed out that the education policy during the beginning of the Meiji Era was consisted of the university policy, elementary policy, education policy of each feudal domain (Han), policies of private schools and institutions as well as policies of studying abroad, etc. and stated “university is the highest academic institution; at the same time, it plays a role of the central educational administration by planning and consolidating education systems across Japan.”
In 1871 (Meiji 7), the educational administrative function is taken out from the university and form the Ministry of Education. Under the office of the Meiji Era (Dajokan), this ministry became one of the administrative bodies, yet this function was originally one of functions of academic institutions and it is notable that it was independent in a relative term from the political administrative institutions.
The pre-war Ministry of Education had the “Bureau of Common Educational Affairs” in charge of “administrations in regard to common education.” After the war, this bureau was changed to the “Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau.” It seems the “bureau of Common Educational Affairs” is more suitable from the perspective of the Constitution as well as the education law and policy. The “elementary school” and “secondary school” are not legal terms.
The Basic Act on Education was enforced after the war and stipulates in regard to educational administration as education shall not be subject to improper control, but it shall be directly responsible to the whole citizens (Article 10). This clause was quite remarkable and has played a wave breaker type of role against the reinforcement of controlling over common education, which was promoted ever since.
However, the “amended” Basic Act on Education of 2006 changed that to “education must not be subject to improper controls, and must be provided in accordance with this and other Acts” (Article 16). The boundary between the educational administration and general administration is removed. Again, the special rule, appropriate to the concept of common education, should be formulated for the Diet debate.
In regard to local administrative organizations, the Board of Education Act was promulgated under the concept of Article 10 of the Basic Act on Education and the system of board of education began. In 1956, the Board of Education Act to elect the members of the board by popular votes was abolished and the local educational administration was to have the superintendent appointed by the head of the local governmental organization as well as members of the board of education, under the “Act on the Organization and Operation of Local Educational Administration.”
Today, there is a debate concerning the abolition of the system of board of education. But the governmental intervention to the board of education is now reinforced by the amendment of the Act in 2007.
At the same time, the “amended” Basic Act on Education in 2006 stipulates the educational administration must be carried out in a fair and proper manner through appropriate role sharing and cooperation between the national and local governments.” In other words, rather than the realization of decentralization, it is more to inflict local governments a part of financing the administration, etc. while maintaining the government-led educational administration system.
On July 1, 2008, The “Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education” was endorsed by the Cabinet, based on the Article 10 of the “amended” Basic Act on Education and reported it to the Parliament. This report is regarded as the education policy for the next decade as well as the basic enforcement of policy for the next 5 years.
It was said the most significant issue of the faction for the “amendment” of the Basic Act on Education was to incorporate a legal premise to formulate the plan, which the Cabinet can endorse, into the Basic Act on Education.
Under the Act before the amendment, a) education shall not be subject to “improper control” like the state power, but it shall be directly responsible to the whole citizens, and b) education administration “shall, on the basis of this realization, aim at the adjustment and establishment of the various conditions required for the pursuit of the aims of education.” These stipulations would not make it possible for the government to adopt any items regarding education policy and/or its contents, etc. without being debated in Diet, including “the current status and issues surround education in Japan” stated at the beginning of the “Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education.”
Under these circumstances, the Diet itself should review and follow the education clause of the Constitution once again, clarify the current status and issues of education, not allowing the government to take initiatives to control the education, reform the education law and policy uninterruptedly, check the educational administration and answer to the public mandate. Such an action is honestly sought.
Section 4 Educational finance and common education
a) The common education free of tuition as primordial -As already mentioned, the second clause of the Article 26 of the Constitution stipulates the common education which all people shall be obliged to have all children receive is free of tuition. The principle of the Constitution is this will a) include all types of school from kindergarten to senior high school, b) not differentiate its founder being public or private, and c) not limit itself within tuition fees. This is the concept of the post-war educational finance system.
However, in regard to this issue, the Basic Act on Education of 1947 limited it to describe it as “not collectible.” Furthermore, the Act limited the obligation period for 9 years up to junior high school and this applied to only public schools. Thus, this does not apply to senior high school, kindergarten or private schools, a double restraint.
In regard to common education of compulsory system, the system of national government’s share on education expenses has been constructed. But in recent years, the national government’s share has been reduced and the burden of the expenses have been pressed to local governments, as teaching material expenses as well as the child allowance are removed from that.
The “amended” Basic Act on Education of 2006 stipulates “the national and local governments shall take measures to provide financial assistance to those who, in spite of their abilities, encounter difficulties in receiving education for economic reasons.” The principle of national government covers the share has been changes.
b) Country poor in education At the Diet meeting on the bill of the Basic Act on Education “Amendment,” there was a voice regarding the rate of education expenses in the government budge “it is an extremely serious issue that it has been reduced more and more in last 50 years. (Snip) It must be redirected determinedly.” (Made Italics by the author) But the government side kept on the same explanations disproving the core elements of the principle of equal opportunity to receive education as well as financial foundation.
In relative terms with other countries, the ratio of the public expenditure for education (all inclusively of national, local government and individual shares) in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) does not reach the average of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), labeling Japan as the country poor in education.
During the Diet debate on the Basic Act on Education “Amendment,” Mr. Machimura, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, made a statement “I used to believe Japan as a country with rich education, but unfortunately Japan is a small country in education according to the OECD data. Japan is traditionally very serious about education, but current public foundation (snip) is exceedingly low.” Yet, this statement is made from the perspectives of not for raising the portion of the national government’s share but raising the share of local governments.
c) The already mentioned “Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education” has statements in regard to the “financial measure for education” but it is not a “plan” to expand it at all.
The “Basic Plan for the Promotion of Education” is leaning on to “the national and local governments shall take the necessary fiscal measures” (fourth clause of Article 16) and continues a “reform of annual expenditure” as well as expects more efforts be made by local governments.
For the common education, an appropriate and adequate fiscal measure should be necessary to improve the issue of the free tuition system. We, all people, are obliged to have all children receive common education in this field as well.