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Last Updated: Friday, 18 May 2007, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Japan schools to teach patriotism
Shinzo Abe votes for the bill
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed to instill national pride
Japan's lower house of parliament has approved a new law requiring schools to teach children to be patriotic.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition voted for the law, which cites "loving our country" as a goal of Japanese pupils' compulsory education.

Opposition members of parliament protested against the bill, warning that it could spread nationalism.

The new legislation will be sent to the upper house for further debate and is expected to become law next month.

Parliament changed the Basic Education Law in December, requiring teachers to encourage patriotism as part of Japanese children's compulsory education for the first time since World War II.

New goal

But Wednesday's revision stated that developing "the attitude of loving our country and hometown" and "the attitude of participating in society based on social norms and public spirit" would now be a required goal of compulsory education in Japan.

The bill will also reinforce the education minister's power over local education boards, and introduce a requirement for teachers to renew their licences every 10 years.

The move to instill patriotism may also meet concern from South Korea and China, which remain suspicious of Japan because of its wartime aggressions.

On Monday, Japan's upper house of parliament passed a bill setting out steps for holding a referendum on revising the country's pacifist constitution, which has not been changed since 1947.

Drawn up by the US occupation authorities after WWII, it bans military force in settling international disputes and prohibits maintaining a military for warfare.

But the government wants Japan to be more assertive on the world stage, with a military able to take part in peacekeeping missions abroad.

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