"When is 'Kenkoku Kinen no Hi' (National Foundation Day)?" In a man-on-the-street survey administered last month to 10,000 male and female Japanese age 18 and over in 10 cities around the nation, only 19.3% gave Feb 11 -- the correct reply -- the Sankei Shimbun (Feb 11) reported on its front page.
The awareness survey, held in advance of Wednesday's holiday, was conducted by the Junior Chamber of Commerce International Japan. As a yardstick for comparison, randomly selected foreign nationals residing in Japan were questioned on their knowledge of similar holidays in their own countries.
Broken down by age segment, only 14.9% of Japanese between the ages of 25 to 39 gave the correct answer, compared with 16.2% of those age 18 to 24 who replied correctly. The highest percentage of correct responses, with 44.3%, came from the age 60 and over group.
Other parts of the survey found that about 40% of Japanese respondents said they had never studied the history of the founding of Japan. Some 70% said they agreed it was necessary to provide full instruction on a nation's history, and about 60% agreed that it is desirable to hold events "to fete the founding of the nation." In response to the question "Do you feel pride in Japan?" 73.0% of the participants gave positive replies.
To compare the responses by Japanese with people of other nationalities, 300 foreigners residing in Japan, selected at random, were asked in an email survey if they knew their own country's founding day. Citizens of China (Oct 1) gave the highest percentage of correct responses, with 100%. Canadians (July 1) were next, with 97.7%, followed by Americans (July 4), with 91.3%.
"While Japanese say they feel pride in their country, it's something of a paradox that they don't know about its founding," Hirofumi Munehisa, speaker of the Japan Jaycee Assembly on National History, told the Sankei Shimbun. "In an ever-more globalized society, it will be necessary to provide well rounded education in national history, including a nation's founding, at the compulsory education level."
A sidebar to the article notes that traditionally Japan's founding date had coincided with the first day of the first lunar month in 660 BC, when the legendary Emperor Jimmu ascended to the throne. The event was originally observed at the same time as the lunar new year, but with the adoption of the Gregorian calendar from 1873, it was established as a public holiday, on Feb 11, and called "Kigensetsu" (Empire Day). In 1946, the allied occupation abolished observance due to its association with the practice of state Shinto. In 1966, the holiday was revived on the same date and renamed "Kenkoku Kinen no Hi."© Japan Today