Defense Minister Tomomi Inada has expressed empathy with the spirit of the 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education, which a scandal-hit school group made children recite.
"Japan should revive its spirit of aiming to be a country that respects morality," Inada told a House of Councillors Budget Committee session on March 8.
In 1948 -- after the end of World War II -- both houses of the Diet voted to scrap the Imperial Rescript on Education on the grounds that the rescript "could violate fundamental human rights and raise doubts about international confidence in Japan."
As such, Inada's latest remarks on the rescript could raise doubts as to whether she is qualified to serve as a Cabinet minister.
The defense minister made the comments in response to a question by Mizuho Fukushima of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) over revelations that children at a kindergarten in Osaka run by the scandal-hit Moritomo Gakuen school corporation were made to recite the rescript.
In response, Inada said, "The spirit of the rescript was to ensure that people love and respect their parents and value a good relationship with their friends, that husbands and wives should maintain good relations and that Japan should aim to be a country with a high level of morality that is respected by countries all over the world."
Inada then pointed out that monuments of the rescript have been installed at school playgrounds in Mie Prefecture and that some high schools even make their students write down the full text of the rescript.
Fukushima criticized the rescript as "having led to a path toward war and caused problems as a moral code."
Meanwhile, Inada has denied that she has maintained close relations with Yasunori Kagoike, head of Moritomo Gakuen corporation.
"I remember he was present at a (fundraising) party for me, but I have neither seen him for about 10 years nor talked to him," the defense minister said.