politics

Ethics textbook change causes widespread constroversy

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The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, meanwhile, is striving to dispel speculation that it forced the change for curriculum for ethic classes, which are scheduled to be elevated to an official elementary school subject in the 2018 academic year.

Dispel the truth? You all damn well forced the change, if they didn't change it you wouldn't have approved it, and the publisher would have been SOL.

In the post-screening of the textbook, however, the education ministry suggests that story as a whole did not satisfy the requirements of “showing a fondness for traditions and culture of our country and hometowns” in the context of curriculum guidelines.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The sad thing about all of this is that it's all so superficial. If showing "respect for tradition and culture" can be fulfilled just by swapping a bread shop out for a wagashi shop, what it shows is that the tradition and culture being respected are paper-thin and superficial.

This is further clouded by Kyodo's choice to call a dotoku textbook an "ethics" textbook rather than what it really is, a "moral education" textbook. Ethics is the thoughtful decision-making process people go through to maximize the good to come out of difficult, non-obvious choices. Morals are the gut-feeling reactions of a person trying to maximize the feeling of good that comes out of their value system. Swapping out a "foreign" store for a "domestic" one to foster "respect for tradition and culture" smacks far more of a moral gut reaction than a thought-out ethical decision.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

“Bread is also an excellent culture in Japan.”

Well, I kind of have to disagree with that when I think of the thick, purely white loafs of nutritionless "bread" that are everywhere.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

This sounds like another well-respected and traditional culture of Japan: avoiding responsibility.

The MOE says they didn't demand the change, just that it should 'reflect culture' and they have 'no choice' but to approve textbooks that meet the criteria. Meanwhile, the publishers says, uh huh, the MOE demanded a change to reflect culture. Sort of like how the MOE says they don't demand that all schools teach English; they only require schools teach 'a foreign language' which everyone 'knows' (belly talk & listening - another cultural trait) means English.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

If the book was about ethics it would have included both the bakery and the wagashi shop. And the kids wold have to decide which one to open as a business, the traditional one or the profitable one. This would have explore paths the Japanese "educators" are very far from.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Well, I kind of have to disagree with that when I think of the thick, purely white loafs of nutritionless "bread" that are everywhere.

See you haven't been to any decent bakeries. Try them in Kyoto if you get the chance.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

What's next? kimono school uniforms?

5 ( +8 / -3 )

And so it begins!!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Lationz - There are numerous Japanese bakeries with excellent quality and variety of bread and pastries, do a bit of exploring , I'm sure you will find some. Borscht - well put , wonder whether the avoidance of responsibility is also taught as part of "traditional culture" here. It certainly is at an art form level here.;)

Anyway, just another example of pisspot 60 + year old bureaucrat oyajis justifying their existence by forcing ridiculous / petty demands / guidelines and then shifting the responsibility onto someone else ( publishers in this case ) at a slightest hint of a little bit of sh..t hitting the fan.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

There are some excellent bakeries in Japan, but you have to look for them and they are few and far between, Not exactly at the centre of the culture; most Japanese people think of plastic-wrapped, square packs of sliced cotton-wool when they think of 'bread'. Or some sweet abomination filled with bean jam, or curry, or yakisoba, or....

In that sense, good bread is not a part of either traditional or daily culture in Japan; it's very much on the outskirts. By the same token, the cotton wool abominations are probably at least as typical, if not more typical, of modern Japanese food culture as the wagashi.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

What a waste of everyone's time!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

And so it begins!!

It's been going on for a while now. The LDP regards wheat as foreign food and bread as foreign food culture. They have been working hard to have it removed from school meals for many years now. The replacement is good old Japanese rice, the world's most expensive, produced by heavily subsidised elderly farmers in rural areas. Who all vote LDP at every election, thus ensuring the LDP's grip on power.

At one time there were 300 bread factories in Tokyo alone. That fell to about 100 in 1989 and it's down to just 20 now. Most schools feed the kids bread once a week. Votes from urban bakers just don't count as much as those from rural rice farmers, it seems.

Lots of classic Japanese-style avoiding of responsibility here, together with Kagoike's favourite, sontaku.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

...because morals and ethics can only be learned from a textbook.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Why not just leave the literary content be. Let sole responsibility for a child ethics or moral guidance remain under parental control.

I bake all my own bread, I like that satisfying crunch to my crusts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

so it is a book about ethics which is based on "truth revision" and fake culture reference, speaks volume...

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Gees! The bakers are a petty bunch! It is a traditional Japanese confectioner, not a bakery! It seems the bakers have forgotten their own 'ethics'.

This 'ethics' class is another misuse of an English word. It has nothing to do with ethics. The whole curriculum is designed around nationalism, bordering on imperialism. They should just call it what is really is, brainwashing class.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Meddling and micromanaging by the ministry culture police.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

most Japanese people think of plastic-wrapped, square packs of sliced cotton-wool when they think of 'bread'.

A bit like anglos who grew up on sliced white/sandwich bread?

Bread may not be at the heart of Japanese culture (yet), many J ppl have developed a passion for it in recent years/decades, that's why there is now a sizable bread market in the country and yes, some quality independent bakeries.

As for the 'bread vs wagashi' debate, what a waste of time/money/energy! Will they also change textbooks in which J kids play football or baseball to sumo, judo etc?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If it is of any help to the Ministry of Truth, Japanese pan bread is different from the rest of the world. Japan is the only country that cares about extremely low ash content in wheat, thus the super white colour. Also virtually all of the akizuki beans consumes in Japan are imported from Ontario, Canada, grown under contract so akizuki beans which originated in China and are grown in Canada are not really "Japanese."

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Starbucks had better be careful. The staff will be rounded up in the future and forced to work in green tea factories.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Ethics is the thoughtful decision-making process people go through to maximize the good to come out of difficult, non-obvious choices. Morals are the gut-feeling reactions of a person trying to maximize the feeling of good that comes out of their value system. Swapping out a "foreign" store for a "domestic" one to foster "respect for tradition and culture" smacks far more of a moral gut reaction than a thought-out ethical decision.

what?!?! ethics are morals: *the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.

you are twisting the language to make your point when you don't need to. swapping "bakery" for "wagashi confectioner" is just plain idiotic. it won't make students any more japanese. that being said, if my parents were visiting from japan, i wouldn't take them to a bakery, i'd take them to a wagashi confection to get a more "authentic" taste of japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Within a 5 minute walk from Odakyu Sagami Ono station you'll find these bakeries offering a wide range of delicious breads that are baked on the premises.

ANDERSEN JOHAN MAISON KAYSER POMPADOUR HOKUO

These are just my favorites. There are several others throughout the neighborhood.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How Orwellian that the Japanese people must be 'taught' the truth in order to instil a fondness for their country. Doesn't North Korea do the same?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

All this over bread? The next thing you'll hear is the LDP talking about reeking of butter.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

ANDERSEN, JOHAN, MAISON KAYSER, POMPADOUR, HOKUO

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The next thing you'll hear is the LDP talking about reeking of butter.

bataakusai, as they say in Japan

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bakeries and cake shops have both come a very long way in terms of choice and quality, and many of the products are singularly Japanese - I mean that in a good way. MoE is playing silly buggers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When I went through high school in the mid-90s, teachers were very leftist. They would use "supplementary materials" to introduce what was missing from the textbooks, including gory photographs that I remember to this day. Are teachers still like that?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I really don't know what's this fuss all about. Maybe because people are too sensitive over anything "nationalistic" in this country? I really hate japanese exclusivism but I wonder if anyone would say anything if it was Italy deciding to change their textbooks from a "burger shop" to a "pizza parlor".

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@gokai

How is it "leftist" to introduce material into the classroom to make up for inadequate textbook coverage? Sounds conscientious to me.

Then again, in the current climate, perhaps looking at any issue in depth, and without all the jingoistic flag-waving superficiality of the right, could be seen by some as "leftist".

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Maybe they should also be forced to hoist the old Japanese flag and put up a picture of the Emperor, with the only music allowed for playing in the background to be sold by black trucks.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This changing from bread to wagashi is a CLASSIC J-technique for brainwashing the locals(as disillusion correctly pointed out)

Japan = good

Foreign = bad

This over time produces one of the BIGGEST non-tariff barriers to foreign imports, its starts with the youngest & keeps hitting us until we are no longer of this world, absolutely pervasive

Why on earth the idiots couldn't simply have worked in BOTH bread & wagashi into the story or perhaps that was too difficult for them LOL!

As for most bread shops, most are more like donuts shops than bread shops, so YES you do have to hunt around for decent bread, much easier now than a few decades back

0 ( +2 / -2 )

How Orwellian that the Japanese people must be 'taught' the truth in order to instil a fondness for their country. Doesn't North Korea do the same?

Yeah, how dare these Japanese try to install fondness and respect for their homeland into their children. They should be taught to hate their country like us enlightened Westerners!

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

The irony is that these old fogies will tell you Japan, and everything about Japan, is the best thing since sliced bread.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As a British person, I'm kind of proud that one of our national dishes is a curry called Chicken Tikka Masala. The dish does not exist in India and so is British food. I'm sure a lot of Americans are proud of the various wonderful dishes that hail from their country thanks to their Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Jewish, etc. communities.

The reality in Japan is that a lot of Japanese home cooking is exactly the same, Raamen, Tonkatsu, Kare-rice, Tempura even are all foreign food. So Monbusho can try and force some preferred version of Japan down people's throats, but it's not going to change anything.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japanese people need to understand that ''respect for tradition and culture'' is an INDIVIDUAL feeling and value. People must be free to feel respect for anything they want, and to value any ''culture'' they want, they are not to be coerced into adopting a set of values they do not want. The concept of ''individualism'' is still very much alien and not understood in this country. Most people still believe ''individualism'' is just sending your kid to go school on its own.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As far as I can see, bread and Western-style sweets are about 10 times more popular than wagashi among Japanese people.

Wagashi is OK but it's kind of "furu-kusai" and not so delicious.

For young Japanese people, bread and sweets are about 100 times more popular than wagashi.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sorry about the multiple posts above, my browser doesn't like the new site.

The wagashi pictured are lumps of coloured icing sugar to have with macha, the whipped green tea made from powdered leaves which is very bitter. The sweets themselves taste only of sugar, so its hardly surprising real world Japanese prefer doughnuts or cakes or whatever.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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