TOKYO (AP) — Opposition politicians on Tuesday criticized a decision by Japan's Cabinet to allow schools to study a 19th century imperial order on education that was banned after World War II for promoting militarism and emperor worship, saying it's a sign that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is becoming more nationalistic.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters the Imperial Rescript on Education should be allowed as a teaching material if it is used in line with the constitution and the education law. The Cabinet adopted the policy Friday.
Opposition politicians on Tuesday called the move unconstitutional and unacceptable.
"The decision clearly underscores an attempt by the Abe government to reinstate prewar (philosophy)," opposition Democratic Party policy research chief Hiroshi Ogushi told reporters.
The rescript, which all students had to memorize, called on Japanese to sacrifice their lives for the emperor. It was issued in the name of Emperor Meiji in 1890 at the beginning of Japan's half century of expansionism and militarism.
Copies of the rescript were considered sacred and were displayed high on the walls of schools along with photos of the emperor and the empress, and were also printed in moral discipline textbooks, until it was banned in 1948 by parliament.
The rescript recently captured national attention because of a political scandal involving a school whose ultra-nationalistic owner, Yasunori Kagoike, taught students to recite it every day.
Kagoike, former head of the Moritomo Gakuen group, testified in parliament that Abe donated 1 million yen ($9,000) through his wife in 2015 to the school, which became embroiled in a scandal over its purchase of state property in 2016 at one-seventh of the appraised price. Abe, who has praised Kagoike, has denied making a donation, which is not illegal, or influencing the property sale.
Kagoike is among many Japanese conservatives who have tried to reinstate the imperial rescript.
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada told a recent parliamentary session that the rescript contains universal values such as respect for parents that can help create a moral nation.
The Cabinet decision said it would be "inappropriate" to use the rescript as the sole basis of national education, and officials deny that the Abe government supports militarism.
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