Education International
Education International

EI urges the Japanese government to open dialogue with teacher union

published 26 November 2006 updated 26 November 2006

In an address to 150 leaders of provincial branches of EI member organisation, Nikkyoso, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen criticized the Japanese government for “the systematic rejection of dialogue” with the teacher union.

He said that the conflict-ridden relationship and the authoritarianism of the past have proven to be unproductive: “Educational success is best achieved when the governments engage with education unions to find the best policies for the future.”

“The refusal of the public authorities to consult with the education unions and to apply core labour standards in the public sector has undermined the positive perception many people may have of Japan as an economically strong, robust democratic society that takes its responsibility in the international institutions,” van Leeuwen said.

“That perception will be further weakened by the revision of the Education Law,” he added.

Van Leeuwen also noted that the discussion on the revision of the Fundamental Law on Education is really a debate about Japan’s place in the modern world:

“The discussion should be seen together with the long-running debate over the contents of history books in Japanese schools, and the refusal of Japan to recognize, at the state and corporate level, the issue of forced labour during World War II. To present these issues in terms of national patriotism versus national humiliation is wrong. And it is rendering a disservice to the younger generation. Accuracy of the historical record is vitally important so that we can all learn from the lessons of the past, and so the citizens of democracies can set a more constructive course for the future.”

The full text of van Leeuwen’s lecture can be obtained here.