Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.18 (February 12, 2009)
"The essence of nation-building lies in human resources development."
In this one sentence is embedded the strong will of the Meiji Government to ensure educational opportunities for all the people. Our predecessors committed the future of Japan to the development of human resources.
Just four days after the abolition of feudal domains and the establishment of a centralized prefectural system, on July 18, 1871, with the Meiji Restoration still a recent memory, the Government set up the Ministry of Education. Then a year later the abovementioned Proclamation, also known as the Preamble to the Education System Order, was issued in order to establish in Japan the modern education system of the West.
I believe the people share an understanding that it is this spirit of universal education that has promoted Japan's modernization and laid the foundations of present-day Japan.
In my policy speech to the current session of the Diet, I stated that "the essence of nation-building lies in human resources development." At the Meeting on Education Rebuilding on Monday of this week, I asked the experts to consider three points that I think are important.
The first relates to the cultivation of world-class human resources. We must ensure that those who have finished their schooling in Japan are prepared to act on the stage of the international community.
Improvement of the basic academic abilities of reading, writing, arithmetic, and English speaking is one of the requirements. However, it is not only a question of language skills; what matters on the international stage is what someone has to say, as a Japanese. It is not just the language used that is important, but even more so it is the message that one tries to convey using that language.
We will build universities that are attractive internationally and bring in diverse human resources from abroad. Having large numbers of people visit Japan to study is extremely valuable, and will help to raise Japan's national strength.
The second point is confidence in the education system. It is vital that the people obtain education without any concerns even given the severe economic conditions. We also have the issue of the quality of public schools. The modalities of the board of education system need to be actively discussed, to make schools reliable. The content of education should be such that it prepares students to work directly after graduation.
The third point is science and sports. Japan recently had four individuals awarded Nobel Prizes. It is important that we continually cultivate the fertile soil that produces such figures as these. To that end, we need to enhance the math and science education that sustains us as a world leader in science and technology, and to promote recruitment of teaching staff who are strong in science and math.
Sports touch and inspire a great many people. From my experience of taking part in the Olympics, I can say that both the self- discipline and mutual development with rivals in sports help in character-building.
I believe that it is vital to build a system for everyone to enjoy sports, by broadening the foundations of sports.
I hope to see vigorous discussions on these topics taking place at the Meeting on Education Rebuilding, to be joined by new members with relevant expertise.
It is people who support endeavors to return Japan to a nation with
vitality, and to make contributions to the world. This being my
belief, I will devote myself to continuous educational reforms.
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