Plunge Pontificates

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Defining Patriotism in Japan

It is decisions like this that show just how nuanced a language can be.

The ruling coalition is expected to seek a revision of the Fundamental Law on Education by toning down the wording used to define the notion of patriotism, ruling bloc sources said Tuesday.

Tadamori Oshima, head of the coalition's task force on drafting revisions of the law, plans to propose at a panel meeting Wednesday using the wording that defines patriotism as "a mind which loves the nation and homeland, respects other countries and contributes to international peace and development" in the revised law, the sources said.
To most people, this would seem like a sensible, non-aggressive definition of a word. Right? WRONG!

However, there may be a change to the wording because some members of New Komeito, which is backed by the major lay Buddhist group Soka Gakkai, have opposed using the phrase "loves the nation," they said.

During previous discussions between the two parties over how to express the idea of patriotism, LDP members have called for using "a mind which loves the nation."

But New Komeito members have favored "a mind which treasures the nation," saying "loves the nation" gives the impression of nationalism, like that seen in Japan before and during World War II.
Now we can see how this wording can be offensive to some. It keeps going from there. Language is so important and the proper interpretation of it even more so.