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(3)Education after the Issuance of the Imperial Rescript on Education

During the interval when the issuance of an Imperial Rescript on Education was being debated in the Cabinet, Education Minister Yoshikawa Akimasa concerned himself with the question of how best to carry out the will of the Emperor in distributing this Imperial Rescript to the nation. On September 26, 1890, Education Minister Yoshikawa considered this issue in some detail in a communication to Prime Minister Yamagata Aritomo. On October 30, 1890, the Imperial Rescript on Education was issued and on the following day Education Minister Yoshikawa issued instructions (kunji) concerning its implementation, and these included the transmission of a certified copy of the Imperial Rescript to each and every school where a ceremony for the respectful reading of the Imperial Rescript was to be carried out. In June, 1891, Regulations concerning Elementary School Ceremonies on Holidays were issued, which stated that there should be a respectful reading of the Imperial Rescript on Education and an admonitory speech based on it given annually on Empire Day (Kigensetsu), the Emperor's Birthday (Tenchosetsu) and other holidays. In this way the Imperial Rescript on Education was formally introduced as the foundation for Japanese education, and indeed the ceremonies accompanying the Imperial Rescript's reading were carried out in such a manner that it came to be regarded as a sacred text.

When the Imperial Rescript on Education was issued, plans for a Commentary on the Imperial Rescript on Education were made. Inoue Tetsujiro (1855-1944) was chosen by the Ministry of Education and set about writing such a commentary. When his draft was produced, Inoue sought the opinions of many scholars and intellectuals on it, and in September, 1891, the Commentary on the Imperial Rescript on Education (Chokugo Engi) was published. After that, this Commentary was used as the textbook for morals (shushin) for the middle and normal schools. In addition, a wide variety of private interpretations of the Imperial Rescript were produced.

The Imperial Rescript on Education had a great impact on elementary and normal school education, especially with respect to moral education. The Outline of the Course of Study for Elementary Schools issued in November, 1891, to accompany the 1890 Elementary School Order was founded on the fundamental principles of the Imperial Rescript on Education. Especially with respect to morals, the influence of the Imperial Rescript was clear for it was stated that "the aim of morals is the cultivation in children of a good conscience based on the fundamental principles of the Imperial Rescript on Education, the nourishing of a moral character, and the teaching of the road to the realization of humanity." In terms of topics which ought to be taught, the following were noted: filial piety, friendship, benevolence, sincerity, propriety, courage, humility, etc. In particular, the nourishment of the spirit of Reverence for the Emperor and Love of the Country (Sonno Aikoku) was stressed. Concerning standards for subject hours, Regulations concerning Weekly Subject Hours for Elementary Schools were issued in November, 1891, and within the limitation of subject hours defined by these Regulations, morals, which had previously been one and one-half hours each week, was increased by a notice (tsucho) issued at that time to three hours for the ordinary elementary school and two hours for the higher elementary school. Moreover, these moral principles were to be stressed in other subjects as well. In the case of Japanese history, the "fundamental principles of our national polity" were to be taught, and the point of this subject was to promote the "integrity of the members of the Japanese nation." Thus in various parts of the curriculum, it was planned to realize the essence of the Imperial Rescript on Education.

In that they were to be founded on the Imperial Rescript on Education, those elementary school textbooks intended to be authorized for morals were subject to especially strict examination. If textbooks for morals from that time are examined, it will be seen that the format is one of repeating the moral points made by the Imperial Rescript on Education in each successive grade. This later came to be called the "philosophy of virtues" and was a characteristic of elementary school textbooks for morals following the issuance of the Imperial Rescript on Education. In the 19O0's, as a consequence of the influence of the school of Johann F. Herbart, many textbooks for morals were based on the "philosophy of personages" presenting parts of the life of various model personages drawn from history. Even in this case, the models were selected to illustrate the virtues set forth in the Imperial Rescript on Education. In addition, many textbooks offered the complete text of the Imperial Rescript on Education at the beginning of every volume, and in textbooks for higher elementary schools, one volume or one part of one volume was usually devoted to an interpretation of the Imperial Rescript.

In April, 1893, the curriculum of ordinary normal schools was revised due to the enforcement of the 1892 Subjects and Their Standards for Ordinary Normal Schools issued in July, 1892. At that time, the previous subject on ethics (rinri) was changed to morals, and the time devoted to this was increased from one hour per week to two. The object of morals was defined as the "teaching of the essentials of morals and ethics based on the great principles of the Imperial Rescript on Education." In replacing "ethics" with "morals," it was observed by the Ministry of Education that "there had been a tendency to interpret 'ethics' as the teaching of 'ethical philosophy,'" but it was now explained by the Ministry that "morals" meant "having as a goal the practicing and acting in accordance with theories founded on the great principles of the Imperial Rescript on Education." It may be seen that the government took special efforts to thoroughly establish the Imperial Rescript on Education in ordinary normal schools, for these schools produced the elementary school teachers who had contact with the general populace.

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