Japan's lower house of parliament has passed a bill encouraging teachers to instil patriotism and respect for tradition in their students.
Teachers should foster 'love of the nation and homeland'
The bill, which will now go to the upper house, would change the country's education law for the first time since it was enacted in 1947.
Opponents fear the move could help fan a resurgence of nationalism.
They are wary because Japan's military leaders used patriotism to justify the expansionism which led to World War II.
The bill calls on teachers to instil thinking among students "respecting tradition and culture and loving the nation and homeland."
Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has strongly backed the bill.
In a weekly e-mail he said Japan's education system "has not sufficiently addressed ideas such as moral values, ethics and self-discipline".
He also mentioned a recent spate of bullying incidents which, he said, would leave parents concerned the education system needed reform.
Conservative groups have long argued for a revision of the current law, saying pupils should learn national pride as Japan assumes a more active diplomatic and military role on the international stage.
The bill passed after the opposition boycotted the vote. It now goes to the upper house, where the government hopes to win approval before the current parliamentary session ends on 15 December.
According to the BBC's Tokyo correspondent, Chris Hogg, Japan has become a lot less cautious about patriotism than it used to be.
Seven years ago a piece of music that honours the emperor became the national anthem and the rising sun flag became the emblem of the Japanese state.
But the government would argue that the country¿s pacifist constitution is pre-eminent and that no-one has anything to fear from a more patriotic Japan.